'CSUEB Students Willing to Pay for Better Services'

  • May 18, 2005

From the Hayward Daily Review, May 17, 2005

HAYWARD - Cal State East Bay students said yes last week to better campus health services, even at a price.

Unofficial results released Monday of last weeks ballot initiative showed about 77 percent voted in favor of raising quarterly health services fees by $8 each year for the next five years.

Clinic administrators say the extra money will allow the campus health clinic to expand its hours and offer mental health counseling and physical therapy.

If the fees were to remain the same, all but basic services would have to be cut, according to materials circulating around campus.

It looks favorable, Dr. Cathleen Coulman, director of the health center, said Monday, adding that she would defer further comment until the vote was certified.

Students voted last week in record numbers. According to David Travis, interim assistant vice president for student affairs, 18 percent of the universitys students voted, tripling the turnout of recent elections.

It was an amazing turnout, Travis said.

The last referendum involving a fee increase - the technology fee proposal of 2003 - drew under 800 votes, he said. This one drew 2,153.

Travis said online voting helped boost student participation. While voting stations were available in campus computer labs, students also could log in to the campus network on their home computers and cast their votes.

Every time students logged on to check their e-mail last Wednesday and Thursday, a notice popped up with the friendly reminder, Have you voted?

But Travis noted that Internet technology isnt the only explanation for the high turnout, as students have been voting online for years. The quality and cost of health care is a matter that affects a greater number of students more deeply than other issues, such as student government elections, he said.

If its a question thats significantly important to them, they vote, Travis said.

Students now pay $35 a quarter, or about $105 a year, for health services, whether they use them or not. The health initiative aimed to raise that amount gradually each academic year so that by the fall of 2009, the fee would be $75 a quarter.

The health center is almost fully funded by student fees, as the universitys general fund money began waning in the early 1990s. The quarterly health fee was last raised eight years ago, when students passed a similar referendum by a 75 percent vote, Coulman said in an interview last month.

Before the referendum results can be considered official, they must first be approved by the Campus Fee Advisory Committee and CSUEB President Norma Rees, a process that is expected to be finalized this week or next.

I cant think of a possible reason why it wont be, Travis said.

Katy Murphy covers education in Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro and San Lorenzo. Call her at (510) 293-2479 or e-mail kmurphy@dailyreviewonline.com.

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