Keep meeting spaces free and accessible

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

UC Davis to implement hourly fees for on-campus meeting spaces

On May 16, UC Davis student organizations and clubs were notified by an email bulletin from the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) that, as of July 1, reserving and using on-campus meeting spaces will require an hourly fee. The exact fees have yet to be announced.

Such spaces were available free of charge during the 2016-2017 school year for up to four hours per week or three special events per quarter. Renting spaces in excess of this allotted time was subject to a $10-45 hourly fee.

The Editorial Board is troubled by the fact that this fee hike has been implemented without transparency or a clear explanation of what the money is going toward or what has changed since last year.

Student organizations have rallied together in repudiation of the fee, providing an email template for clubs and individual students to express their disagreement with the decision. The Facebook page UCD against Student Org Room Fees urges the university to consider the importance of extracurriculars and the harm that a fee hike will cause to student organizations.

UC Davis’ own mission statement encourages student involvement outside of the classroom, stating that the university offers “opportunities for personal development and academic enrichment through undergraduate research, work-learn experiences and extracurricular student life.”

On-campus meeting spaces are vital to the success of student-run organizations, whether they’re being used by creative clubs, charities or any of the 800-plus student organizations on the UC Davis campus. Without the space to organize and collaborate, students’ ability to further their professional careers or pursue extracurriculars is stifled.

Failing to provide students with easily accessible meeting spaces — both in terms of location and of affordability — is a detriment to UC Davis students and their greater aspirations, whether professional, charitable or recreational. Many student organizations run without turning a profit, relying on fundraisers or quarterly dues paid by their members. Such organizations fundraise on an as-needed basis, with little leftover to spend on weekly meetings. Not only does instituting a room fee put an additional burden on already cash-strapped students, but it also creates an access barrier for students and small clubs that cannot afford to pay membership dues.

Though $10 per hour may be a doable fee for weekly clubs, it’s unfeasible for others. For performance-based organizations like a cappella or theater groups, on-campus practice spaces are often rented for extended periods of time, especially before shows. With the implementation of this fee, using on-campus spaces would no longer be plausible for student-run organizations that hold a four-hour, five-days-per-week rehearsal schedule.  

UC Davis is already notorious for charging the highest University of California undergraduate campus fees, which are allocated to provide various services and programs for students. It’s concerning that such resources are becoming increasingly inaccessible for UC Davis students.

The Editorial Board believes that student organizations have a right to free and accessible campus meeting spaces in order to foster student extracurriculars. Given the administration’s lack of transparency regarding the fee implementation, we support student organizations and their efforts to combat this decision by the university.