Feb 222011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Stalking, domestic violence and sexual assaults could see more university attention next year if student government’s head officials are successful in their push for a fee increase in March.

Each student could pay $3 to $4 toward the increase that would go to CSU’s Women and Gender Advocacy Center to create more programs to increase awareness and resources for interpersonal violence.

“Students would benefit from having even more advocacy regarding interpersonal violence,” said Kathy Sisneros, director of the WGAC. “With the fee, it would allow us to be more proactive with educating the campus around the issues.”

The center currently puts on classes in the spring called SAGE, or Student Alliance for Gender Education. It also organizes an on-call system that originated in 1975 and offers the CSU community year-round contact with two people who can serve as a sexual assault advocate.

The proposed student fee hike for survivor support services is backed by 218 of the 465 students, or 47 percent of the total, surveyed by the Associated Students of CSU’s Interpersonal Violence Response Taskforce. About 37 percent said they would support an increase less than $3.

Out of the nine student organizations ASCSU approached to sign on as supporters of the proposal­­, all 149 members of the separate groups voted unanimously in favor of doing so.

But ASCSU College of Liberal Arts Sen. Joe Eden said he and fellow senators remain unconvinced of the fee’s plausibility.

“I’d be awestruck if it passed Senate, and I’m adamantly opposed to it,” he said.

The advocacy center wants to create awareness programs specifically for men with the money generated from the increase, but Eden said this service is already available to men and women through Hartshorn Health Center.

“I cannot justify voting ‘yes’ to what is ultimately a tax increase when the service is already provided to the students,” he said. “The more appropriate approach would be to have a specialist working in Hartshorn, and the students can save their money and get more services –– it’s simple efficiency.”

The center, however, has other uses for the money, including increasing the number of peer educators on campus who could serve as resources for those wishing to know more about interpersonal violence, according to the Director of Women and Gender Advocacy Center Kathy Sisneros.

“It’s (the fee) to increase resources and education around interpersonal violence,” said ASCSU Vice President Jennifer Babos, who is spearheading the effort with President Cooper Anderson. “It’s about taking a stand against something that’s wrong and hurtful, and as a community saying that it’s unacceptable. Everyone deserves to feel safe and supported.”

Anderson and Babos have gone through two Student Fee Review Board meetings, proving the interpersonal violence fee increase was student-initiated and student-supported through the survey put out by the IPV Response Taskforce.

The duo plans to present to SFRB for the last time in March when they will detail exactly how the generated funds would be budgeted. After the presentation, SFRB will vote on whether or not it supports the increase.

Senate is also slated to vote on whether it should sponsor the proposal after the last presentation.

While the two can technically continue with their effort to increase fees without the approval of SFRB or Senate, Anderson said he would take into consideration the recommendations of the groups’ advice.
“I think part of my responsibility is to listen very closely to each of those bodies and see how those debates play out,” he said.

Anderson and Babos are expected to take their proposal to the CSU System Board of Governors, which has ultimate say on whether or not to approve the increase in May.

CSU President Tony Frank said in a statement to the Collegian that the university generally tries to limit fee increases and new fees whenever possible.

“That being said, I certainly respect ASCSU’s efforts to assure campus safety,” he said. “It’s a goal shared by the CSUPD (Police Department), our Public Safety Team and our faculty and staff in general, including many who work every day to ensure a safe and welcoming campus for all members of our community.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

More about the fee

  • What: Fee increase that would give the Women and Gender Advocacy Center more money for additional programs to support male victims and train more advocates.
  • How much: The fee would cost students anywhere from $3 to $4.
  • Support: 465 students were surveyed and 47 percent supported the fee increase while 37 percent supported a fee increase lesser than $3.
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