$15 isn’t much to support students

Rayza Colonno | Special to The Union

Rayza Colonno | Special to The Union


The mission of all colleges is to foster academic success.

But besides academia, college is a place where many people explore life by meeting new people, joining clubs, participating in sports and taking part in the college community in a capacity besides the ever-important coursework.

At El Camino many of these activities, including most clubs, are managed and funded by the Associated Students Organization (ASO). 

The Union’s Editorial Board believes our college population can do more to support the organization’s financial needs, to support popular programs including athletics, the Transfer Center, speech and debate and a variety of other clubs and services. 

The entire budget the ASO depends on to keep popular student services and clubs operational comes from the $15 Benefits Pass students have a chance to opt out of when registering for classes. 

Recently, due to poor projections and an increase in students opting out of the fee, the ASO is in a deficit and the future of many groups, services and clubs is murky. 

Interim Director of the Student Development Office Ricky Gonzalez said due to guidelines set forth by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, there is a policy that limits a district’s power in matters of auxiliary funding.

State policy prohibits a student body organization from forcing a student activity fee. Local college policy such as Board Policy 5420 states the ASO is responsible for all auxiliary fee funds and not the district or president. While Gonzalez said the administration is helping, there is only so much they can do.

In the past, major decisions such as originally giving the full fee responsibility to the ASO and increasing  the cost to $15 were responses to the root issue; simply put not enough El Camino students are paying for the fee. 

Current projections have the student opt-in/opt-out ration for the fee at around 50/50; not enough to support all the extracurricular activities we students have grown to expect. 

According to research originally conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and later republished by Liberty University, 62.4% of college students participate in some form of extracurricular activity.

At El Camino the struggling ASO Benefits Pass funds the Inter-Club Council, which in turn pays for every student-led club, but the funding also pays for services such as the Warrior Pantry and transfer counseling, spaces like the Art Gallery and student-led programs like the award-winning forensics and journalism teams.

In this dire time for our college, the Editorial Board believes it is time we students do our part and begin increasing our participation in the benefits fee. 

According to Gonzalez, a 5-to-10% increase in student participation would yield an estimated $40,000 to $85,000 in additional funds.

For students who are athletes, debaters, journalists or club members, the stakes are clear. If you can afford it, The Union believes the $15 fee is a good investment as it helps fund the very things we care most about at El Camino.

But even students who don’t consider themselves plugged in to college-life benefit from the services the fee helps make a reality. 

If you’ve ever enjoyed an art exhibit, watched a ball game or taken advantage of the free events, workshops and food that is made available throughout campus, think about the importance of having a thriving and funded college.

The Union Editorial Board suggests students don’t opt out of the ASO Benefit Pass and instead opt-in to explore the community within your college.