Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana has abandoned — for now — a proposal for what the school called an academic success fee that was strongly opposed by students.
Armiñana informed the student body of his decision by email Wednesday. He attributed it partly to vocal resistance by students, who had been circulating a protest petition and sending him emails.
“We hear the concern raised by students about the extra financial burden of this fee,” he wrote. “We have decided, therefore, not to pursue the academic success fee at this time.”
The fee could have been as much as $250 a semester, an increase of about 28 percent. It was seen as a way to hire new instructors, increase classes in high demand and help students graduate in four years.
“People don't want to pay more. That's it,” Armiñana said in an interview Thursday. “They were not willing to consider their return on investment.”
Many students and faculty fought the proposed fee when it was introduced two weeks ago. Sonoma State campus fees currently are $902, third highest in the 23-campus state university system. Campus fees are in addition to the $2,736-per-semester systemwide tuition for full-time undergraduate students.
A petition opposing the fee circulating on the website Change.org had more than 1,200 signatures on Thursday. The petition signatories threatened to withhold future donations to the school if the president implemented the fee.
Fifty faculty members opposed to the fee pooled $1,000 to fund a separate website to raise awareness for the proposal.
Peter Phillips, professor of sociology at Sonoma State, said the president listened to the opposition.
“I'm glad president Armiñana made the right decision to not impose fees on students who are already overstretched,” he said. “His decision was the correct thing to do. He couldn't win in the long run.”