Student Technology Fee on the ballot for renewal this April

The Daily Cal received funds from the Student Tech Fund in 2017 and 2019. 

Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom Pro and laptop borrowing programs are all services covered by the Student Technology Fund, or STF, fee which was recently added to the April ballot for renewal by the ASUC Senate.

The existing fee totals $51 per student every semester and provides UC Berkeley undergraduates, graduates and professional school students with a range of technology services and support. Funds from the STF allow access to Student Technology Helpdesk and Open Computing Facility, or OCF, services, as well as software and project grants for student technology initiatives.

The STF also helped launch the Student Tech Equity Program during the COVID-19 pandemic, which provided critical equipment such as laptops and hotspots for students, according to Martin Siron, vice president of finance of the Graduate Assembly.

“The fee has become very useful to a whole lot of people,” said ASUC senator Ellis Spickermann, who is the primary sponsor of the renewal referendum. “People did not want to see those services go away.”

The STF secures technology services for students at a fraction of their original cost, according to STF analyst Jennifer McNulty. While the new STF proposal costs the same and is identical in most aspects, there are a few minor differences.

The proposal includes a $15 fee for summer session students, different governance structures, more benefits for graduate students and professional staff. After three years, the new STF will be increased to $56 per student in fall and spring semesters, and $16.50 for summer session students.

McNulty said in an email that students and departments will have to individually pay for software and technology services if the fee is not renewed.

“This will create an inequitable environment in which students with more resources, or departments with more resources, who can afford to pay for additional technology will do so, while those with fewer resources, either individual students and/or departments, will have to go without,” McNulty said in an email.

One-third of the fee will fund software packages, another third will be returned to financial aid under campus policy, 10% will be used for administrative use, 7% for the Student Tech Services Help Desk and 1.5% for the OCF. The remainder of the fee will be used for niche individual student software licenses and project initiative grants, according to the ASUC Senate Resolution.

While many students are in favor of financial support for software, there are concerns from those who believe the university should foot the bill, according to Siron.

If passed, the renewal will start fall 2021 and stay in effect for another seven years until fall 2028.

“Next steps are essentially just ensuring that students actually vote this year, just because it’s been such a strange year,” Spickermann said. “Whether they support it or don’t support it, that’s ok, but making sure that people do vote is very important.”

ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.

Contact Cindy Liu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.

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