President Conoley approves activities fee increase

Long Beach State students will be paying $64 more dollars of the Instructionally Related Activities fee over the next academic year.

Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley approved the increase on March 24, with a public announcement last Tuesday from Interim Athletics Director Ted Kadowaki via a letter from his desk sent out by email and the Long Beach State Athletics website.

The amount that students paid this semester was $25 and with this increase, it brings the fee to $89. However, the increase has been split between the fall 2023 and spring 2024 semesters.

According to a written memo sent to the Student Fee Advisory Committee by President Conoley, students will be paying $65 dollars in the fall semester and then paying $89 dollars in the following spring semester.

In an email, Beth Lesen, vice president of student affairs and a member of the fee advisory committee, said that student members who voted against the increase recommendation brought up splitting the fee increase during a closed discussion.

“They would be more supportive of a lower fee increase and they used $40 as an example, which is where that number for the first billing cycle came from,” Lesen said in her email.

All students, returning and new, will have to pay this mandatory fee when attending CSULB.

The money taken from the fee will pull athletics out of their budget deficit of $4.5 million and will be put towards the fixed costs of running their 19 sports teams and the department.

“This will make a long-lasting difference and secure our ability to maintain a safe, competitive, and respected intercollegiate athletics program at the Beach,” Kadowaki said in his letter.

In President Conoley’s memo, there were multiple reasons for her making this decision. Some of these included the universities “admirable student-athlete graduation rates,” the fee increase being in line with what other athletic programs in the Big West Conference are doing and the fee itself is not being increased as often even when facing inflation.

Conoley says that plans to reduce some campus fees currently charged against athletics will be worked on. Divisions such as Academic and Student Affairs, University Relations and Development, Administration and Finance and Information Technology will be pledging additional support for the athletics department.

“I have directed each division to do this so that students are not the only ones shouldering support for our student-athletes,” Conoley said in the memo.

In an email, Conoley said that this increase was also in relation to budget difficulties that Long Beach State will be facing in the next year.

“There is now some doubt that the so-called Compact with the State will be honored, which promised a 5% increase in State funds. And even if it is, the increase does not keep pace with inflation, thus, we’ll actually absorb a loss,” Conoley said in the email.

Conoley also talked about how there are currently labor negotiations with employee groups and that the compact will not be enough to give raises to employees.

“These two issues combined signal that we won’t have much flexibility in budget and certainly can’t absorb deficits,” Conoley said in her email.

Worries about National Collegiate Athletic Association requirements for LBSU are on Conoley’s mind as well.

In a phone interview, Conoley said that one worry in mind is that the NCAA is going to require campuses to have student medical coverage for injured players and for student-athletes to have them at least two years post-graduation.

“We don’t have an insurance system that the UC does. But they’re worried about it too, because their UC insurance program is really for students, not for graduates,” Conoley said.

The history of athletics dealing with a deficit has existed ever since Conoley was hired in 2014, as she says that athletics has had a deficit of at least $1 million throughout her time here.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic playing a part in the increase of the deficit, Conoley said that increases in staff compensation played more of a part in the increase.

“These are bargained compensation,” Conoley said. “Some of the coaches are managers, but others are members of the California Faculty. So the, you know, the compensation kept going up over nine years and the fees didn’t change.”

With this fee passing, athletics will be working to bring more benefits to Long Beach State students as part of the Save Beach Athletics initiative. These benefits would include continued free admission to all home games, increased student group use of the pyramid, increased paid and unpaid internship opportunities, student assistant jobs and closer ties with intramural and club sports.

While it may be months until athletics sees this new income, Kadowaki, along with the help of multiple committees and groups, can now focus on finding a new athletics director without the thoughts of dealing with a deficit in the back of their minds.

“I close with this – our fiscal foundation is about to get much stronger, and we are committed to continued growth and excellence in Beach Athletics for 2023 and beyond,” Kadowaki said in his letter.

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