Students are two signatures closer to receiving extra benefits from the health center.
A student petition circulated April 5 to April 23 to gain support for a proposed Student Health Center fee hike of $25, which will increase gradually through Fall 2016. After review by the Student Fee Advisory April 25, who initially advised circulation of the petition, a memo now is being prepared to send to President Robert A. Corrigan and then California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed for approval.
“The result of the petition process was that 5,267 signatures were collected, representing approximately 18 percent of currently enrolled SF State students,” said Eugene Chelberg, associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “Of these signatures, 5,180 indicated their support and 87 indicated their opposition to the proposed fee increase.”
The petition was open to all registered students, and was distributed by various student health workers and volunteers at different tabling events in the Student Health Center, Cesar Chavez Student Center and campus housing.
Senior art major Traci Thomas saw the petition during a recent trip into the Health Center, but declined to sign it.
“I’m not down for that. The sign said ‘Save the Health Center’ and that they would have to close it because they couldn’t afford to pay for it anymore,” said Thomas, 24. “Kind of misleading because I thought they were going to close the whole thing… We really can’t afford to pay for tuition and then pay for health in case we have a cold.”
According to Alastair Smith, director of student health services, the next and final steps in the process are to have the fee increase approved by Corrigan and Reed.
All prevailing counseling and psychological services will be cut if the proposal is not approved. There has been a vacancy for the position of staff psychiatrist since Feb. 27; before there was just one full-time psychiatrist for roughly 30,000 students.
If approved, the proposal would introduce 12 new medical and counseling staff, provide 24/7 phone care and free reproductive health services during the next five years.
Acceptance would mark the first fee increase for the health center in eight years.
Presently, the center relies on student fees to cover costs, which are set at $117 a semester. The last increase took place in 2003, going up less than any other campus entity and leaving the center to use surplus revenue to cover costs, according to Smith.
He added that the only revenue received outside of that is from the state-funded family planning program Family PACT. This covers the salaries of six staff members. Introduction of the program saves students $1.5 million in pharmaceutical bills, including $500,000 in lab bills and tests.
Chelburg said that while the petition results have demonstrated a majority support for the fee raise, the increase also stands in line with CSU Executive Order 1053, which authorizes campuses to increase an existing health services fee to support student mental health services.
All signs seem to point to a fee increase implementation beginning in the fall, but nothing is certain in these interim stages.
“I don’t want to pretend like I know what President Corrigan or Chancellor Reed are going to do,” Smith said.
With speculation over CSU budgets rising, even with proven support from a large number of students, the waiting game is no easier for the health center.