SGA hears course material Equitable Access program, supports RA stipend petition

At the Nov. 10 Student Government Association Senate meeting, senators heard a presentation from Larry Lee, executive director of Auxiliary Services, about the Equitable Access program. Student government also joined a petition to pay UCCS Housing resident assistants a stipend for their work.

Equitable Access program

The Equitable Access program grants students access to all required course materials on the first day of class for a low price charged to the student account. Lee estimates the charge will be $20 per credit hour; however, students will be able to opt-out of the program if they wish.

“Students arrive to campus with everything they really need to be successful except for your textbooks, and this gets rid of that,” Lee said.

Lee and his team aim to introduce the program by fall 2023. “Everybody’s going to do this. It’s just, are we going to be one of the first?” Lee said.

According to Lee, one of the reasons why Equitable Access has gained popularity among college institutions is because it reduces costs for all students and eliminates the confusion of buying textbooks for classes because it’s all automated.

In his presentation, Lee examined two majors that paid for course materials from the fall 2022 semester. The most economical major, economics, had an average cost of $405 with an average of 15 credit hours per student, whereas nursing, the least economical major, had an average cost of $1665 with an average of 16 credit hours per student. Under Equitable Access, the economics major would pay a projected $300, and the nursing major would pay a projected $320 for the same amount of credit hours.

“Look, we do it [Equitable Access] now or we do it late. … If we don’t do it this year, next year someone’s going to be asking me why we didn’t,” Lee said.

RA petition resolution

Senator at Large Isabella Polombo spoke to her colleagues in student government about a petition to grant resident assistants a starting stipend of $100 per month for every month they work as an RA, organized by Polombo and fellow RA Noel Lopez.

Polombo claims RAs at UCCS have been mistreated and unfairly compensated for the work they put in. “UCCS as an institution has failed to address this as an issue. UCCS housing have heard these issues before, and yet somehow our voices continued to not be heard,” Polombo said. “What we really are advocating for is better compensation so that we can actually survive.”

At least four RAs have already quit this semester and around 10 are looking to resign once the semester ends. Some RAs quit or plan to, even at the risk of homelessness.

While RAs are prohibited from working longer than 25 hours a week, the two claim that most RAs go over the 25-hour limit by picking up extra shifts due to the decreasing workforce and resolving extreme incidents in the residency halls. Such incidents include wellness checks, sexual/physical/verbal harassment cases and vandalism.

Both Polombo and Lopez said the job is exhausting and sometimes even traumatizing. “We do a lot of dirty work … these situations are so distressing that a lot of RAs have suffered from PTSD,” Lopez said.

“This isn’t just for us. This is for our friends. This is for our family,” Lopez said.

In other news:

  • SGA passed the Clothes Drive Bill with 85% of the senate voting yes. Senator at Large Aiyanna Quinones partnered up with MOSAIC and Clyde’s Closet to organize a clothing drive where people can donate winter clothes for students in need. Quinones hopes this project will be a long-term solution for students that continues over the years.
  • SGA passed the annual Student Fee Proposal Form. The bill was authored by Director of Finance Kevin Velasco and increased the student activities fee by 8.2% to meet the current inflation rate. The proposed change is an increase of $1.22 per credit hour for the spring and fall and $0.61 per credit hour in the summer.
Resident assistant Noel Lopez speaks to senators about the petition to give RAs a stipend of $100 monthly. Photo by Taylor Villalpando.