Contrary to popular belief, students at UC Irvine will have a say in proposed tuition increases for the upcoming academic year.
In this Associated Students of UCI elections, students will vote on the Campus Events Referendum, which would implement a $6 increase in quarterly student fees, totaling $18 a year. The fee would be used for the promotion of free concerts, comedy acts by popular artists and other performers.
Although the potential fee increase stemming from this referendum pales in comparison to those voted on by the UC Regents, students who are both for and against this referendum are nonetheless passionate about it.
The referendum was proposed by Nathan Lee, ASUCI vice president of student services. He is enthusiastic about the referendum and believes it will bring a greater sense of campus unity as well as a convenient and affordable way for students to attend concerts and shows.
‘Now instead of going to Los Angeles or San Diego to see a concert of their favorite performer, students are going to be able to see a big-name concert or a big-name act right here at UCI at the Bren Events Center with all their peers,’ Lee said. ‘I think that [the referendum] is good as far as the whole campus is concerned because it does create more of an appeal to come to UCI.’
The proposed fee comes alongside other campus activity fees added to students’ tuition. The current campus activity fee breaks down to a $54 Associated Students Fee, a $142.50 Student Center Fee, a $69 Bren Events Fee and a $99 Campus Spirit Fee.
Lee recognized the increasing financial burden on students if this referendum is passed but maintained that the positive results of this referendum would outweigh the costs. Like all other referendums that increase student fees, a third of the revenue must go toward financial aid.
‘What’s great about this referendum is that it’s only $6 a quarter, $18 a year,’ Lee said. ‘Even if you’re not going to the comedy acts or other events, 33 percent of that does go to financial aid, getting your money back that way.’
However, there are students who neither attend concerts nor receive financial aid and do not stand to benefit from this fee increase. Joel Oragwu, a second-year chemical engineering major, expressed his apprehension.
‘The referendum is good for occasional concert goers. But for those who don’t attend concerts at all, which would include me, I don’t like any increase for anything that won’t change on my end,’ Oragwu said.
Lee said that the fee referendum would further support the student services committee fund, allowing for bigger events to be possible.
‘Right now our budget is pretty big in this office but it’s lacking a budget that allows us to have big names and concerts come to campus,’ Lee said. ‘A referendum is basically the only way we can get funds for these kinds of events without charging a ticket fee. For example the Kanye West concert was $45 and it sold out. Imagine getting Kanye West without having to pay anything except for a small fee each quarter.’
However, if a performance by Kanye West were to be free, there is no guarantee that students could attend the concert because the Bren Events Center can only accommodate so many people. In effect, the $6 required fee per quarter might not be used by a student who wants to attend a concert.
‘I don’t like this idea because although people will be getting free concerts due to the increase in tuition, it doesn’t account for the fact that more people may want to attend particular concerts than the maximum capacity of the Bren Events Center,’ Oragwu said. ‘There is nothing in the referendum that solves this problem.’
On a campus where a majority of undergraduates live off campus or commute, student turnout has become a problem for ASUCI-sponsored events. Catering to every student’s tastes has also proven to be problematic for ASUCI’s past events.
‘Obviously we have 20,000 students here and it is really hard to program an event for 20,000 individuals. That has been a struggle and it always will be a struggle,’ Lee said.
The student services committee does plan on using the statistical analysis committee to get feedback on which performers and events UCI students want to see on campus.
‘In order to find out what students want, we need to take an approach of asking the students exactly what they want,’ Lee said.
Allison Starkweather, a third-year classical civilization major, is excited to see more widely known artists perform closer to campus.
‘One of the biggest reasons I haven’t gone to any concerts, is because they’re usually not by people I know and like. I’d definitely go more often for big name concerts, and $6 per quarter seems more than reasonable for that,’ Starkweather said.
However, Haniya Hunt, a third-year civil engineering major, is reluctant to accept an increase in fees despite the promise of more popular artists.
‘An added $18 is $18 more dollars lost. A fee here and there–it all adds up. A concert will hardly bring unity to the student body. If one is apt to see a mainstream artist, they will sacrifice themselves and pay the $45 [price for a ticket],’ Hunt said.