Budget Office

Referendum and Alternative Consultation Processes

When adjusting an existing category II campus-based mandatory fee, or establishing a new campus mandatory fee there are processes that campuses should go through to ensure appropriate and meaningful consultation from all members of the campus community, with special consideration to input from students.

Common campus-based mandatory fees include: (See index for more information)
Associated Student Body Fee (ASI); University Union Fee; Health Services Fee; Health Facilities Fee; Instructionally Related Activities Fee; Materials, Services and Facilities Fee; ID Card Fee (when mandatory); Orientation Fee (when mandatory) and others.

The Associated Student Body Fee (Education Code 89300) and the University Union fee (Education Code 89304) require a favorable result of a referendum in order to be established. Once established, the ASI fee continues to require a favorable referendum vote in order to be adjusted. The University Union fee is no longer restricted to a referendum, and other types of alternative consultation can be considered when appropriate.

Appropriate and Meaningful Consultation: Referendum or alternative consultation - from EO 1054 Section III.

  1. Appropriate and meaningful consultation with campus constituencies regarding Category II fees and the use of fee revenue is critical to assure that the delegated authority is exercised in a manner that is consistent with policies adopted by the board.
    1. Appropriate and meaningful consultation includes consultation with bodies such as the campus faculty senate, the campus student body association and other constituencies affected by any proposed increase in an existing fee or establishment of a new fee.
    2. The policy presumes that a student fee referendum will be conducted before adjusting or establishing Category II fees. However, the president may waive the referendum requirement (unless it is required by Education Code) if he/she determines that a referendum is not the best mechanism to achieve appropriate and meaningful consultation.
    3. If a referendum is not conducted prior to adjusting Category II fees or requesting the chancellor to establish a new Category II fee, the president must demonstrate to the fee advisory committee the reasons why the alternative consultation methods selected will be more effective in complying with this policy.
  2. An advisory student referendum is the preferred method of measuring student support prior to adjusting a Category II fee or requesting the chancellor to establish a new Category II fee but is subject to the exception described in B-2. The referendum may be conducted by the campus or the student body association. For referenda conducted by the campus, the following shall apply:
    1. The president in consultation with the student body association and the faculty senate shall develop guidelines applicable to the student fee referendum process designed to assure that the referendum is open, fair, and objective.
    2. The campus shall fund costs associated with the referendum.
    3. The fee advisory committee shall issue a voter pamphlet providing objective analysis of the proposed fee action and statements solicited by the committee for and against the proposed fee action.
    4. The fee advisory committee shall determine the specific statements that shall be included in the pamphlet.
    5. Copies of the voter pamphlet and ballot and information regarding the dates, times, and polling locations shall be available to students and published in the campus newspaper and in other public locations around campus at least thirty days prior to the referendum.
    6. The results of a referendum shall be considered favorable when a majority of students voting approve the fee action.
    7. The results of the referendum shall be advisory to the fee advisory committee and the president, unless education code requires that the referendum pass.
  3. If it is determined that a referendum is not the best mechanism for appropriate and meaningful consultation, and is not required by Education Code, an alternative consultation process may be utilized. The following shall apply:
    1. The president, upon deciding that a referendum will not allow for the best measure of student opinion, will inform the fee advisory committee of his/her intent to begin alternative consultation.
    2. Alternative consultation strategies will be developed with input from the student body association and the fee advisory committee to ensure that the process is transparent, and meaningful, and will solicit the input of a representative sample of the student body.
    3. A representative sample should include students in leadership positions as well as students who are not involved in campus leadership. Efforts should be made to include students from many aspects of campus life regardless of the type of fee.
    4. Any written material regarding the new fee, or fee increase should follow the same guidelines as the referendum voter pamphlet (Section C above) to provide objective analysis of the fee or fee increase.
    5. Results of the alternative consultation process should be summarized and put in writing and used as additional advisory material to be taken into consideration by the fee advisory committee and the president.
    6. If a category II fee for a capital project (i.e. university union building, or health services building) must be raised to meet minimum debt service revenue bond requirements that were not required when the fee was established, the president can make that adjustment without a full alternative consultation process, but must present the debt service requirements and revenue projections to the fee advisory committee prior to making the adjustment.