Graduate and Professional Student Association Fee Referendum

The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) of the University of California, San Diego is proposing a Graduate Student Activity Fee increase that would:

  • Support campus-wide efforts to address basic needs initiatives at the graduate level, including providing additional funding to support operative costs of the Triton Food Pantry, which serves hundreds of graduate students each quarter. 
  • Fund future equity, diversity, and inclusion (“EDI”) initiatives and events that foster the growth, support, and increased recognition of underserved and historically underrepresented graduate-level scholars and community; programs may include events to encourage and promote broader social and intellectual engagement across cultures and disciplines.
  • Create initiatives to enhance professional development programs for graduate students, which may include a graduate student career fair, professional development travel opportunities, and informational interviews and networking meetings.
  • Expand social programming on- and off-campus by increasing operation expenses of the Graduate and Professional Student Association to support the quarterly Free for Alls and Roaming Socials, as well as support the creation of new traditions, which may include a graduate student music festival.
  • Increased advocacy efforts around graduate student needs to California state and federal legislators, the UC Office of the President and UC Regents, and the UC San Diego administration by providing additional funding for more student representatives.
  • Boost funding for graduate and professional student mental health and physical wellness resources by funding programs and events geared towards holistic graduate student health.
  • Increase funding and advertising for programs and events requested by graduate student organizations and events open to the entire graduate community hosted by graduate students and their departments.

If approved, this fee referendum would increase the Graduate Activity Fee from $12.00 per graduate student per quarter to $19.54 per graduate student per quarter, effective Fall 2022. It would be the first increase to the fee since 2002.

Starting Fall 2023, the entire fee will be adjusted by 2.9% annually to account for changes in inflation, and the fee will not be assessed during the Summer Session. In accordance with University Policy, this fee will be included in the determination of financial aid. The fee increase ($7.54 per student per quarter in 2022)—and all future inflationary adjustments—will be subject to 29% return-to-aid (RTA) to help meet graduate and professional students’ financial aid needs ($2.19 in 2022). The remaining 71% ($5.35 in 2022) will be used to fund initiatives including, but not limited to, the items noted above. 

The Graduate and Professional Student Association Council will oversee the spending of this fee, and annual budget reports will be made public and provided to all UCSD Student Governments. Finally, modifications to this fee may not be made without subsequent student referenda held in accordance with local and systemwide University policies.

Do you approve a $7.54 increase to the Graduate Activity Fee per graduate student per quarter for a quarterly total of $19.54 effective Fall Quarter 2022, with a 2.9% annual inflation adjuster starting in Fall 2023, to increase funding for the Graduate and Professional Student Association’s events, student organizations, and services?

Voting Options

  • Yes 
  • No 
  • Abstain 


Pro Statement Con Statement

Passing the GPSA Fee Increase Referendum is a critical step in modernizing the GPSA and allowing it to fully serve the graduate and professional student community.

As the GPSA Activity Fee has not changed since AY 2013/14, the effective value of that fee has actually decreased by over 15% due to inflation. This means that even if nothing had changed since then, the GPSA would effectively have lost a sixth of its operating budget.

Organizing activities, events, and get-togethers for students is a crucial way the GPSA facilitates connections between students. COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on gatherings has had a chilling effect on this role of the GPSA. An increase in the Activity Fee will allow social events to operate under the increased limitations and costs that result from these restrictions, and provide more flexibility to build the student community.

Raising the GPSA Activity Fee will also allow for increases in paid positions within the GPSA. One important area this is needed in is with the VP for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. As every sector of campus needs to consider EDI, that office is pulled in all directions ensuring student voices are heard everywhere they need to be. More students sharing that workload will reduce this issue, and improve the reach of the GPSA. Student liaisons working with VP Campus will boost GPSA presence across sectors of campus, including in Student Housing and Transportation. Increasing the Activity Fee will allow the GPSA to hire more students, which will improve the ability to serve on committees that are making important decisions and get critical information when there is still time to act on it.

Voting for this referendum will strengthen the GPSA and greatly increase its ability to serve the student body.

The GPSA Fee Increase Referendum is thought to have the ability to create a more holistic graduate experience for all students, but that is in fact simply untrue given the record of the GPSA and its official activities. Simply put, the increase in funds would be better spent in some other capacity than being wasted in any form in an organization that cannot currently effectively support graduate students in its current form.

The pandemic has caused the academic community to be less effective in a social setting overall, which is the primary reason behind why there is no justifiable reason to increase the budget. Without a more stable environment for students to thrive in and enjoy the benefits of being involved in student government, the money will have no true effect on the overall performance of the government. The money has the potential to create spaces for different people in the context of campus involvement, but without the proper external environment, there would not be any point for the fee increase.

Given the fact that the entire fee increase is 7% for this year in the 2.9% in terms going forward in total, which may not seem like much in the long run, that does not necessarily equate to creating a greater presence in the graduate community. Many of the students have claimed that students do not see any of the results or visible differences that GPSA contributes to on campus to enhance their experience while earning their professional degrees. With their current resources, can the student population really trust the organization to represent the interests of the students in the long run? Who will hold them accountable to use those extra finances to be responsible to this extent?

The overall point of a fee increase in this context is to better graduate students as a whole - will this fee increase result in that, or result in more money left on the table that will not end well for any member of the graduate community???

Rebuttal To Pro Statement Rebuttal To Con Statement

The increase in GPSA fees will result in an increase in not only student overall stress towards making extra payments, but it will also result in a lack of any substantial support for those students. As mentioned above, the fees would not, and have not resulted in any significant support for the student body, and it could be believed that it is a result of the pandemic.

A fee increase is not the worst action to be taken in relation to GPSA, but it requires the correct environment and a substantially better record from GPSA to justify the cost to the students. With that, it starts the conversation for increasing the budget to accommodate for more GPSA related costs, but until that point, it is simply not feasible to support an increase to GPSA’s budget in its current format.

The GPSA has been put on to do more and more with less effective funding every year, which is the impetus for this referendum. Allowing funding for social activities to match current needs and increasing its ability to hire students to support its aims will improve the stability and capacity of the GPSA, and allow more flexibility moving forward.

Regarding accountability, GPSA reps are elected by each department, and as a council they elect executives, confirm appointments, and pass a budget. Spending also goes through administrative review to ensure it follows GPSA and UCSD regulations.