The university is attempting to implement a new fee. That fee has rules that need to be followed in order to be established, and during the first round of forums, the university was doing a poor job of implementing them.
The Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) has now decided to extend the evaluation time two more weeks, but that does not change the lack of transparency during the first six weeks.
In order to establish the Student Success Initiative (SSI), the fee is required to be both transparent and implement a meaningful and appropriate consultation of the student body.
The problem with the fee, during the first six forums, began with its name.
The SSI is a fee. It needed to be called what it was, a fee. Slapping a nice name on it only made it harder for students to realize what the initiative actually meant: paying more every semester.
In 2012 students started hunger strikes in order to protest a tuition increase. They knew that a tuition increase meant they had to pay more, and they opposed it.
Yet the last round of forums, where students had the ability to shape how the fee would look, saw low student participation. Because of the name Student Success Initiative, students weren’t interpreting the SSI as a fee.
Students are less likely to protest something that has the word “success” in the name.
Calling it the SSI fee is a good start in increasing transparency. By adding the word “fee” students will know the initiative means they will be paying more.
Reaction to the SSI is likely to grow now that the word fee is attached to the name.
Not only was the lack of transparency a problem, but the methods the university employed to gauge student interest were poor.
Most events on this campus have low student turnout, university officials should have known these forums would not be any different.
As of Feb. 19 the SFAC has received 1,058 students surveys, in a school of more than 38,000 students.
That is around 2.7 percent of the student population voicing their opinion.
This in no way can be an accurate representation of what the student body actually wants.
Some blame can be put on the students for not participating in the process, but it’s also difficult to attend an event that has not been properly advertised or marketed.
The marketing amounted to launching a new website, emailing students, advertising through the Daily Titan and using pamphlets and flyers.
But the link on the web portal did not look like it was alerting students of a fee.
The words “Student Success Initiative” were the most visible. The words actually explaining that this initiative is a fee was in a noticeably smaller font.
The emails sent to students could have been missed by students who don’t check their university accounts often.
The SFAC plans to do more to inform students of the fee.
One of things they will do is talk to the 30 largest classes in the university to discuss the initiative.
Talking to students during their classes is definitely the better alternative.
Students are required to be in their classes and talking to them about the fee in their classes will result in more students being informed and possibly more surveys being filled out.
A higher percentage of the student body being informed and filling out surveys will result in a fee that will more accurately represent what the students actually want.
But professors talking to their students about the fee does not have to be limited to those 30 classes, professors that can afford the time out of their class could take some time to talk to their students about the fee.
University representatives have said that during the next two weeks they will find more methods of advertising and hold another six forums.
They have already begun their new advertising by adding a big sliding graphic to the front of the Fullerton.edu website with the words “Student Success Initiative Fee Proposal.”
Although whether or not the university will continue these efforts or if they will be successful remains to be seen.
It is now up to the students to make sure this next round of forums sees different results than the first six.