CALPIRG Fee Collection, Transportation Fee Extension Up for Student Vote

(Connor Gorry / The Triton)

Students will vote on two referendums this year: whether or not statewide organization CALPIRG Students can continue collecting voluntary pledges via the campus billing system, and whether or not to extend—and increase—the Student Transportation Fee for bus and transit access.

The first referendum on the ballot deals with the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG). CALPIRG proposes a voluntary $10 quarterly pledge paid through the campus billing system to support its advocacy and awareness efforts. If the referendum passes, UC San Diego students can continue to opt in by signing up on Library Walk during CALPIRG’s pledge drives. To opt out, students must contact Student Business Services or submit an online form.

CALPIRG’s contract with UCSD mandates passage of the ballot measure whenever CALPIRG fails to enroll 10 percent of undergraduates. Passage of the ballot measure will allow CALPIRG to continue to collect fees via the UCSD billing system, which no other organization currently has the ability to do.

USPIRG, CALPIRG’s umbrella organization, currently has two stars on Charity Navigator, a website that evaluates the financial accountability and transparency of all nonprofit organizations. UCSD CALPIRG Vice Chair Sophie Haddad explained that the significantly smaller 2014–2015 chapter narrowly missed enrolling 10 percent of that year’s graduating class.

“[The fee] allows them to hire professional staff who train them on how to be effective organizers and give them access to lobby-elected officials and decision-makers in Washington D.C. and Sacramento,” said Haddad in an email. “A ‘yes’ vote would mean that CALPIRG continues to collect voluntary pledge donations, and work on their campaigns for affordable textbooks, renewable energy, registering voters, and fighting food insecurity.”

The second measure will extend and increase the Student Transportation Fee, which funds the university’s U-Pass partnership with the San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System (MTS), through 2025.

The quarterly Student Transportation Fee of $52.24 was overwhelmingly approved in Spring 2014 and will expire in 2019. This year’s first initiative proposes an $11.56 increase to $63.80 per quarter next year, as well as a five-year extension for the program. Students who pay the Student Transportation Fee are eligible to obtain a U-Pass sticker, which allows unlimited rides on MTS buses and trolleys. The fee will increase by 1.5 percent each year to account for inflation.

If approved, the measure will maintain the other requirements stipulated in the 2014 referendum. The Student Transportation Advisory Committee will continue to oversee expenditures; 21 percent of funds generated will support financial aid, while the remaining 79 percent will pay for the Regional Transit Pass. Excess funds will be used to encourage the use of alternative transportation around campus.

Passage of any referendum requires at least 20 percent of the eligible student body to vote. For each referendum, students will have the opportunity to abstain or vote “yes” or “no.”

Voting opens on Monday, April 9 and closes at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 13.

Rohan Grover is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. Additional research for this article was provided by Mo Al Elew.

This article was updated on March 13, 2018 at 2:57 p.m. A previous version of this article may have incorrectly implied that the passage of the CALPIRG Students referendum would result in a mandatory fee increase. The updated version clarifies that students must opt in to CALPIRG’s pledge collection system.