University reverses decision to charge student organizations room reservation fees

IAN JONES / AGGIE FILE

ASUCD resolution, petition submitted to administrators

On June 27, the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) released an email announcing the reversal of the university’s decision to implement room reservation fees for student organizations for the 2017-18 school year.

“The ‘free allotment’ of reservations (4 hours per week of meeting reservations in general assignment spaces and three special events per quarter in general assignment spaces) will continue during the next academic year,” the email from CSI stated.

This followed an email sent out by CSI on May 16 announcing that Conference and Events Services (CES) would begin “charging reservation fees for all reservation requests.” Student backlash manifested in the forms of a petition and a piece of emergency legislation from ASUCD.

Incoming fourth-year human development and sociology double major Emma Sadlowski created the Petition Against Reservation Fees for UC Davis Registered Student Organizations. The petition received over 1,000 signatures from students, with signatures from over 230 different student organizations.

“The university should be providing safe areas and allocating […] spaces for students to collaborate and to meet,” Sadlowski said. “That’s a really important part of the university experience. It was really amazing to see all of the support we received from different student organizations and seeing the numbers grow every day was really amazing.”

Sadlowski met with ASUCD Senator Marcos Rodriguez to discuss how best to gather student support for the petition. Rodriguez wrote a piece of emergency legislation, voted on at the last Senate meeting of the year. The resolution passed unanimously.

“The idea was that the petition would give traction to the resolution that I wrote in Senate,” Rodriguez said. “The resolution itself [is] pretty basic, we’re just highlighting how much the university likes to market the amount of different organizations and clubs they have to offer here on campus and how the fee would impact these organizations, such as their ability to fundraise, their ability to host these social events and networking.”

The petition and the resolution were sent together to Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Adela de la Torre, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Resource Management Kelly Ratliff and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Milton Lang. ASUCD Senator Michael Gofman, who co-authored and reviewed Rodriguez’s resolution, said he felt the decision to reverse the implementation of room fees is a direct cause of the petition and resolution.

With regard to the initial decision by the university to begin charging student organizations room fees, Gofman said he felt the announcement was made so late in the year and so close to the beginning of summer purposefully.

“I’m guessing what the administration wanted is for [students to] not notice it, not respond to it and then […] we wouldn’t be able to unite the campus against it and they could get away with it,” Gofman said. “Luckily, we were able to write it up quickly, within a week of it being proposed, and we were able to stop it.”

In 2012, ASUCD passed a similar resolution after CES announced they would begin charging reservation fees.

Sadlowski said she is unsure as to why the decision was made to begin charging organizations fees in the first place, as no clear reason was ever specified in the emails sent out by CSI. In the resolution, Rodriguez said there was a call for more transparency and communication with student groups like ASUCD.

“This is the second time students have come together against such a policy change,” Rodriguez said. “I’m certain the administration sees that this is something that students are always going to care deeply about.”

CES was unavailable for comment.

Written by: Hannah Holzer — campus@theaggie.org