After almost five hours of debate, the Associated Students of CSU Senate passed a $4 sexual assault fee in a 6-16-5 vote on whether or not to slash the fee from the Long Bill last night.
The fee will help fund a new male advocate position within The Women and Gender Advocacy Center and provide funding for more education and awareness of sexual assault and personal violence.
In addition to the fee, Senate also passed a $70 increase for the Lory Student Center renovations. Both of these fees are included in the Long Bill â€“â€“ the proposed student fee increase package â€“â€“ which was passed in a 19-4-4 vote.
ASCSU President Cooper Anderson asked senators to meet individually with him in weeks prior to voting on the Long Bill. He said he wanted to see what questions, comments or concerns they had and to see where they stood on the bill.
Sen. Joe Eden said he was directly asked by Anderson to abstain from voting if he was not going to vote yes to approve the fee package. Eden had voted against the fee package on the Student Fee Review Board, but it was changed to an abstention because he did not submit writing on why he voted no, which is one of the rules of SFRB.
Eden said Anderson never explained to him why he wanted him to abstain from voting if he were to oppose the bill.
Stephanie Tanny, the founder of the Interpersonal Violence Task Force, said the community needs more sensitive treatment of
survivors, education, higher ethical standards.
â€œThis is a student initiative, and people have deemed their current situation unsatisfactory,â€ said ASCSU Chief of Staff Nathan Fiedler.
But Chase Eckerdt, the director of Community Affairs, questioned how the fee will decrease rates of sexual violence.
â€œIâ€™m not convinced that throwing fees or resources at the problem in the form of this fee increase is actually going to solve the problem. Just increasing the fee isnâ€™t necessarily the answer,â€ he said.
Sen. Ben Weiner agreed saying he didnâ€™t think the avenues to solving this issue have been adequately examined for getting volunteers without having to pay them.
â€œThis is not the way to go about it. The students will be hurting next year. I donâ€™t believe that now is the time for expansion,â€ he said.
The fee would give $189,600 to the center, around 80 percent, or $156,278, would go to salaries.
More students came out for the discussion than are typically seen in the gallery.
Chelsea Neill, a senior economics major, spoke on behalf in support of the fee.
She said she was shuffled around from office to office during her personal sexual assault experience, which made her feel like she was reliving her experience over and over again.
â€œHaving an advocate would make it easier,â€ she said. â€œThis is about looking at me as a CSU student and as a human being who has to deal with this for the rest of my life.â€
Sen. Eric Roche said the senators were there to make a decision of whether this program is going to be the solution. He said that in a survey sent to 6,000 students, the majority of respondents voted for a fee of $2.50 or less. He said the next option was a $0.00 increase.
â€œMost of those supported a fee much smaller (than $4),â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t think we can say there was a majority a fee of $4.â€
â€œWeâ€™re being irresponsible by considering increasing our (budget),â€ Roche said. â€œItâ€™s always a little bit of money but those (fees) add up. Itâ€™s not prudent at all. Every other form of government is cutting their budget; maybe we should look at that too.â€
After the sexual assault fee was passed, Senate discussed a $70 fee to pay for renovations to the Lory Student Center.
Sen. Eden said this is what the students wanted.
â€œThe LSC is going to have to be renovated in the very near future,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s in need of a lot of repair. If weâ€™re going to do it, we might as well do it right.â€
ASCSU Beat Reporter Courtney Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.