This is the last time I will address you as your student body president. I want to let you know that it has been an honor serving you in this position during the past two years, and in the Senate prior to that.
I have long believed that the past two years have been two of the most productive in CSUN’s history, and I wanted you – the students my team and I have represented – to know what we accomplished during our tenure.
Many students don’t know or care about their student government, but I can assure you that if run properly, it can be an incredible resource, an invaluable advocate, and a productive organization working to benefit your educational experience and campus life.
This is one of the toughest, yet most rewarding, jobs I’ve ever had – and that’s saying something for a 39-year old. However, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to help so many students along the way, and to make lifelong friendships with so many of the amazing people that make up our student body.
If you’d like to know exactly what I have done on your behalf during the past two years, I have included the information below along with the names of those who helped make each accomplishment possible.
If you ever need anything, please contact me directly at: email@example.com or via text at 702.289.8592. I will still be attending UNLV, and will happily help any student with any issue.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you,
PS: GO REBELS!!
Tuition & Fees
Fixing CSUN and Protecting Your Money
Since we don’t know what this means yet, please keep your comments coming so I can share them with the president (and keep your information private).
This Monday at 10:00am in the UNLV President’s Conference Room (FDH 7th Floor), UNLV’s Special Fee Committee will meet to decide whether to approve or deny proposed new fees for students.
Two weeks ago, the committee met and saw more than a dozen items — thankfully resulting in no new fees for students.
This Monday, we might not be so fortunate.
As the only student representative on this committee, speaking on behalf of 25,000 undergraduate students, I need your help to stop these fees from being approved.
Fee #1: Athletics proposed $1,000,000 fee increase
Currently, Athletics receives $4.35 per credit out of the $173 Student Life Facilities Fee you pay – which doesn’t include the millions of dollars they receive from ticketing and merchandise, or private donors. They are asking for an increase of $1.90 — which, if applied this year, would be an additional $988,000 put on the backs of students. (That’s like funding a second student government, as our fee is just $1.97 per credit)
Fee #2: A 2% credit card convenience fee
This new fee would charge students who pay their tuition and fees with a credit or debit card a 2% surcharge. We’ve been told that the average student payment is roughly $900 (this would result in an additional $18). But if you’re one of the students who pays your $2,600 bill with a credit or debit card, you will pay an additional $52 — just to pay your bill.
This fee would also be charged to any students paying with a credit or debit card in person.
The only way to avoid this fee is to pay via check (or e-check online).
Please email your thoughts on these new fees to: firstname.lastname@example.org, send a Facebook message to the CSUN Facebook page (“UNLV Student Body” / facebook.com/unlvcsun), or text me at 702.289.8592, and I will forward your concerns to the entire Special Fee Committee. I promise to keep your personal information confidential.
Students must speak out if we have a chance of stopping these fees on Monday.
Also, please feel free to show up to the meeting Monday morning, 10:00am, in the President’s Conference Room (FDH 7th Floor). While it is not an open meeting, even though I believe it should be, they will have no choice but to listen to you.]]>
1. With the opening of the UNLV Transit Center – which robbed students of 60 much-needed parking spaces – the RTC’s bus to Sam Boyd Stadium created a duplication of efforts. We felt that we should not spend $15,000 in student fees running private buses while the RTC bus was available. However, CSUN was still prepared to pay the $2 fee each way for students who wanted to attend football games. We did this for the first game on September 7, 2013.
2. After two weeks of attempting to work with RTC to provide a way for CSUN to pay the $2 fare for students taking the bus to Sam Boyd, RTC was unable or unwilling to do so. The best offer they gave us was purchasing $5 daily residential bus passes for each student in batches of 100 – a $1 overcharge for round-trip students and a $3 overcharge for students who don’t make the return trip. Roughly half of the students who take the bus to the game do not make the return trip.
3. For the first football game, to honor our promise to students, our Senate President Jasmine Hicks withdrew $1,300 of her own money from the bank to pay for students to ride the bus. For her efforts, UNLV has made it difficult for her to receive a reimbursement for this and has told her that while they would reimburse her this time, using her cash in the future would not be reimbursed – removing yet another option.
4. The RTC bus to Sam Boyd starts two hours before game time and takes roughly 30 minutes. Students who take the first bus have only one hour of tailgating time, as our tailgate must be dismantled 30 minutes prior to the start of the game. Students who take the 2nd bus would have only 30 minutes of tailgating time, and students who take later buses would have no time to tailgate. This, combined with the unfriendly tailgate policies instituted by UNLV, Sam Boyd, and Athletics, has led us to the difficult decision of discontinuing tailgates as well. Requests to allow students entry to tailgates using their Rebel Cards instead of game tickets have been denied. Requests to provide students with a discounted rate from that of the general public for entering the tailgate in a vehicle have been denied. As most of you are probably aware, entering the tailgate with a vehicle is the only way for any fan to bring alcoholic beverages into the tailgate area – even for fans who are over 21.
5. This past Wednesday morning, we met with Athletics to inform them of our decision. They asked us to wait until the end of the day so they could try to work out a better arrangement with RTC. We appreciate the effort made by interim Athletics Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. However, at the end of the day we were told that RTC would sell us $4 daily passes if we would purchase passes for the entire season, and do so within 24 hours. This still did not address the students who do not return on the bus, which would cost CSUN (your student fees) $2 per student. This still represents an overcharge, and therefore was not a viable solution. It is difficult to believe that RTC is unable to provide a way for CSUN to pay for the actual ridership of students, but that is the current situation.
CSUN has spent countless hours over the past few weeks trying to work with RTC on a viable solution, without success – even though we would be driving roughly $10,000 in additional revenues to the transit center during football season.
CSUN has also spent time working with Athletics on policy changes that would improve the tailgating experience for students and non-students alike. For two years those efforts have failed.
For these reasons, we feel we have no choice at this point but to save students the $22,000 budgeted for this program and put that money into events surrounding the Runnin’ Rebels basketball season and two Rebel Road Trips that will take place during basketball season.
We hope you understand that we were left with no other options. Students deserve better than to be taken advantage of. While we appreciate the time RTC and Athletics spent working with us on this issue, it simply wasn’t good enough.
We still support our Rebels Football team, and wish them the best success this year. This is not an attempt to sabotage football, UNLV Athletics, or the RTC. We simply have to make the decisions necessary to properly represent students and their funds. With roughly 10% of students attending the first game using the RTC bus, we feel that this will not interfere with students’ ability to attend the games.
If you have any questions, please contact CSUN Marketing Director Tom McAllister at: email@example.com]]>
Back in February, I posted about the state of parking on campus – from a student’s perspective. A former College of Liberal Arts advisor (who left UNLV to work at UNR) claimed that parking is always an empty promise for CSUN, and has been for seven years. While lots of people make empty promises – mostly candidates running for CSUN offices – I pointed out how much work we had done with parking on behalf of students. You can read that here.
But that was my first term, and on May 1st, I began a second term full of new promises to continue working on these issues for students. That brings us to today.
Thirty minutes after I was sworn in I met with the Director of Parking Services, Tad MacDowell. I laid out several ongoing concerns – many of which I had brought to him several times before. Much of this conversation revolved around the state of student parking with regards to the transit center and lack of convenient parking spaces. I explained that many of the staff spaces in LOT H (the spots behind the transit center construction zone) were left empty all day, while students struggled to find parking. Once again, I proposed flipping low-use staff spaces into student spaces. Quickly, Tad made a phone call and ordered reports on staff use in those spaces for the following week – reported hourly.
As a result, I’m happy to report that TWELVE staff spaces have been returned to the students in LOT H!
Then, this past Monday I met with Tad again and learned that SIXTEEN staff spaces had been flipped to student spaces along the fence between LOT M and LOT N. This is a line of spaces in the triangle between the Intramural Field, Thomas & Mack, and the lot behind the library.
So, today students have 28 more parking spaces than the last time I posted, and 12 of them are behind the transit center. It’s a small victory, but we’ll take it!
As always, if you have questions about this – or any other issue – don’t hesitate to contact me at Mark.Ciavola@unlv.edu or (702) 289-8592.]]>
Students will be chosen weekly for group lunches. This is open to all undergraduate students. If you have questions, email me directly at: Mark.Ciavola@unlv.edu.
Over 80 students have participated so far, and more than 500 have registered! This project was also featured in the Rebel Yell.
Click here to enter!
*Note: CSUN student fees will not be used for this project.]]>
Everything you need to know about parking issues from a student perspective – including today’s surprise.
New Staff Parking?
If you arrived at school today only to find the sacred student parking spaces behind Aloha Kitchen being flipped into new staff parking spots, you were not alone. The staff parking from the lot directly north of this lot (the one behind In & Out) is being moved to make way for the new UNLV Transit Terminal – which breaks ground in March. The transit stop, which I have been opposing for over a year, was part of a federal grant that helped expand the Tropicana parking garage several years ago. It’s a done deal, and nothing any of us did over the past year could have stopped it.
HOWEVER. The fact that parking spots were switched today came as a complete surprise to many people, including myself and the chair of the UNLV Parking Committee, as no formal notice went out from the UNLV Parking Department.
The important thing to note here is that the entire front lot (behind In & Out) will be used for the transit stop and that the new staff spaces (which have been “moved”) are permanent – until a parking garage is built on the southern lot (behind Aloha Kitchen) as part of the UNLV Master Plan.
CSUN’s Focus on Parking
Many students bring up parking as their number one issue, and CSUN always talks about fixing parking. In fact, a former adviser in the Liberal Arts College posted on social media today that parking is always an empty promise for CSUN, and has been for seven years. He also said that CSUN has no control over the Parking Department. He’s partly right.
I promised students last year that I would go to battle on parking issues. Here’s what I did fight for:
No parking permit fee increase: I am happy to report that parking permit fees will not increase until at least 2015.
No weekend parking enforcement: I fought back hard on this one because it would seriously impact students who study on weekends and most of Greek Life – who assemble on Sundays for chapter meetings.
Staff parking after 5pm in Lot I: Currently, the policy on campus allows students who have purchased a student parking permit to park in staff spaces after 5pm – with the exception of Lot I, near Lied Library. You’ll be happy to know that I was successful in passing a proposal through the UNLV Parking Committee last month to formally recommend to the UNLV Parking Department making the policy campus-wide. Once implemented, students will be able to park in Lot I between 5pm – 7pm without receiving surprise tickets. The lot does have a sign that says 7pm, but who reads signs when they think the rule is 5pm?
Student parking in front of Student Union: While I still want to see this become a reality, traffic issues on Maryland Parkway (a valid reason) are the biggest challenge to making it happen.
More student parking: I am still pushing for more student parking, especially in places like the parking lot behind the Lied Library by removing some metered spots. This looks like it could be a reality, so stay tuned. However, turning staff parking into student parking isn’t an option because if staff can’t park – they can’t teach our classes, and they pay twice as much as students for their permits. (I’ve tried this strategy many times without success.)
Nine parking garages: The UNLV Master Plan calls for up to nine additional parking garages. This effectively puts an end to the “fix parking” debate because the UNLV Parking Department won’t be taking on many short-term projects if the long-term solutions are on the horizon. While these garages may not be built while we are at UNLV, hopefully future students will have a much better parking experience.
So while the former adviser in the Liberal Arts College is right that CSUN can’t force decisions upon the Parking Department, and that there have been many empty promises made over the years — it is important for students to know that I have fought for them on a number of realistic initiatives, and we’ve made some great progress. My promises were not empty.
It is also important to know what is, and is not, realistic. When you hear people talk of removing all metered spots, removing staff spaces, free parking for students without permits, building a parking garage other than in UNLV Master Plan proposed locations, and other unrealistic proposals, keep in mind that those of us who are working on these issues are making progress on realistic solutions to the parking challenges facing students.
As always, if you have questions about this – or any other issue – don’t hesitate to contact me at Mark.Ciavola@unlv.edu or (702) 289-8592.]]>
For years, UNLV students have had to deal with a bad economy and job market, budget cuts, tuition and fee increases, less than stellar student services, a lack of class sections, GAs teaching instead of professors, and more. But nothing comes close to the staggering audacity of “Mandatory Health Insurance as a Condition of Enrollment.”
When the NSHE Board of Regents meet this Thursday, they will be considering a proposal which – if passed – would allow institutions in Nevada to require that students prove they have health insurance in order to enroll in classes. What’s worse? They’d have to prove it every single semester.
As if this wasn’t outrageous enough, the reasons don’t add up.
In a committee meeting, held to determine the effects of this policy on various UNLV departments, I was told that the reasons were as follows:
Reasons vs. Reality
Reason #1. In order to offer a low-cost Student Health Insurance Plan at UNLV, there need to be more students enrolled in the plan to lower premiums.
Reason #2. The new national health care law requires everyone to have health insurance, so this policy would be in line with the new law.
Reason #3. Having students without insurance on campus, or not offering students health insurance on campus, could result in increased liability for the university.
Here’s the reality:
Reality #1: Most students don’t know about the Student Health Insurance Plan because it isn’t advertised. Until it is advertised, it’s difficult to complain about low enrollment and be taken seriously. I suggested to the committee that we add a page during enrollment on MyUNLV that advertises the health insurance plan, with an opt-in/opt-out feature. That way, it is guaranteed to be advertised to every student.
Reality #2: It is not UNLV’s responsibility to enforce the new federal health care law. Furthermore, if a student chooses to pay the penalty ($750) rather than purchase health insurance ($2,000), they should still be able to take classes at UNLV. Under this new measure they wouldn’t be able to. That’s just wrong.
Reality #3: The opt-in/opt-out feature during enrollment will solve this problem. However, the fact that options like an opt-in/out and advertising to students were not considered prior to jumping to mandatory health insurance as a condition of enrollment is disturbing.
I’m happy to say that the CSUN Senate, last Thursday, unanimously passed a resolution opposing Mandatory Health Insurance as a Condition of Enrollment. Furthermore, I will be contacting all of the NSHE Board of Regents regarding this issue, and speaking out against it at their meeting this Thursday.
I will keep students up to date on this issue, as it is an important one that affects us all. The cost of education is high enough without adding this unnecessary burden. I, for one, am tired of the quality of our education and student services decreasing while our tuition and fees continue to rise. We’ve been fortunate that tuition has remained steady for the past year and that we have been able to stop certain fees from being passed. However, we need to continue that fight and ensure that the students are represented properly on these issues.
Today is Nevada Education Awareness Day at the Nevada Legislature. In my role as student body president I am part of the Nevada Student Alliance, made up of the various student body presidents – both undergraduate and graduate – across Nevada. Today, the Nevada Student Alliance is in Carson City representing students on some of the most important issues facing us, as students.
Today, I decided not to join the NSA in Carson City because they decided to support the Nevada System of Higher Education’s legislative agenda instead of an agenda that directly benefits students. The #1 priority? Restoring faculty and staff pay.
I was elected to represent you, not the faculty and staff.
Please read my letter to the Nevada Legislature explaining my decision.
If you have any questions, contact me directly at Mark.Ciavola@unlv.edu or (702) 289-8592.
In the meantime, I will continue to have your back.]]>
It isn’t rare for me to work an 18-hour day, but it is rare for me to do it on my birthday. However, this birthday was part of one of the best weeks in CSUN since I became student body president almost one year ago.
Thursday night, the CSUN Senate overwhelmingly passed several of my proposals: Campus-wide Wi-Fi, Greek Week, Senior Send-off, a bylaw to permanently fund the UNLV/CSUN Preschool, and a resolution opposing mandatory health insurance as a condition of enrollment at UNLV.
While the meeting didn’t end until midnight, my day started at 8am when I met with Director of Student Union Event Services, John Tucker, to discuss my newest proposal – the CSUN Game Room.
Add all that, plus hopefully passing our new constitution at Monday night’s senate meeting – which lowers the CSUN Student Fee saving students $250,000 – and you have what could be the best week ever.
Here’s a breakdown:
My $450,000 proposal to fund campus-wide wi-fi in all academic areas by the end of 2013 passed with flying colors! The best part? It doesn’t use a single dollar of student fees from this year’s budget. Buildings with virtually no wi-fi like CHE, WHI, Judy Bailey Theater, Houssels House, and Ham Hall will finally have coverage. Buildings with spotty coverage like BEH, CBC, GRA, and BHS will now have full coverage. Even the Fertitta Tennis Complex and Eller Media Softball Stadium will have coverage. We’ll be advertising this to students, but spread the word that much-improved wi-fi is coming by the end of the year!
I have always said that Greek Life is an integral part of campus life at UNLV, but in the past there hasn’t always been a good relationship between CSUN and the Greek community. One year ago I set out to change that. A while ago I created a Greek Caucus within CSUN, comprised of roughly a dozen Greeks, in order to brainstorm on ways we can partner with the Greek community and work on Greek-specific issues. One of the first ideas to come out of that caucus was having CSUN sponsor Greek Week. After several meetings, and working with the IFC and PHC Greek Week coordinators, I’m happy to report that CSUN will be sponsoring and funding Greek Week! This is a great way for us to show our support for Greek Life – which truly does have some of the most engaged students on campus. While CSUN is not planning the week, we are planning one big event in the middle of the week that will be open to all students. Look for details on that soon!
The annual one-stop shopping experience for seniors is getting special attention from CSUN this year with larger sponsorship than usual. During Senior Send-off, seniors can purchase their cap and gown, graduation invitations, class ring, diploma frame, graduation photos, and more. They can also visit with various services to help them transition into life after UNLV. The event includes a lunch. This year, I wanted to sponsor a bit more – because after all, seniors have paid more CSUN student fees than anyone on campus and we should send them off in style. Also, CSUN typically rolls over its unused funds into a reserve account which seniors will never see. We’re looking forward to seeing the seniors in person at our CSUN Senior Send-off table!
I am very happy to say that CSUN now has a permanent bylaw which funds the UNLV/CSUN Preschool at $25,000 per year in a lump sum each October. The $25,000 amount is a reasonable amount, and one that the preschool and I agreed to last fall. At the time I was also able to secure them an additional $10,000 in funds from UNLV. One of their biggest challenges has been knowing the funds were coming, and getting them in a lump sum close to the start of each fall semester. I’m very happy to have delivered on those requests, while also ensuring that the funding is contingent on the preschool continuing to keep its undergraduate enrollment rate at 20% of its overall enrollment and continuing student discounts at no more than 80% of the general public rate. We at CSUN are very proud to be continuing our 40 year relationship with the preschool we helped found in 1974, and ensuring that they are funded each year.
Mandatory Health Insurance Resolution
The Board of Regents will be considering an item that would allow higher education institutions across Nevada to require students have health insurance policies in order to enroll in classes. Why? Two reasons: First, because they want to be able to offer low-cost health insurance plans to students and cannot do so if enough students aren’t enrolled in the plan. Second, it would cover them for liability issues arising from not offering health insurance plans to students who are injured on campus. However, the reality is that UNLV does not advertise the Student Health Insurance Plan to students. So, requiring students to have a health insurance policy in order to enroll in classes at UNLV would be a cost-prohibitive measure that would result in less students being able to afford their education. I would like to see UNLV take steps to effectively market the existing health insurance plan to students instead of jumping to a costly mandate. On Thursday, the senate agreed and passed a resolution opposing the measure. I will be presenting the resolution to the Board of Regents on Thursday.
CSUN Game Room
Finally, my proposal to sponsor the Student Union Game Room and re-brand it the “CSUN Game Room” is being written as we speak, and should pass the senate on March 4th. The sponsorship will be for the remainder of spring 2013 and all of the 2013-14 school year. As a result, the new CSUN Game Room and its various activities will be free for students – aside from coin-operated arcade games. The result is a great free space for students, especially those who live on campus.
Monday night, nine months of hard work will hopefully come to a close with the passage of our new constitution! Once it faces a legal review, it will be placed on the ballot in the April 3 & 4 CSUN Executive Board General Election for students to approve. Among other things, it lowers the CSUN Student Fee saving students more than $250,000 and creates an appeals board to provide oversight to CSUN in order to prevent avoidable lawsuits. The new document, written by myself and Senator Lou Pombo and contributed to and passed by the CSUN Constitutional Revisions Committee, will go a long way to addressing many of the challenges – both internal and external – that CSUN has faced over the past few years.
These successes, combined with the upcoming Rebel Road Trip, CSUN Scholarships, and so much more, make this a very exciting time to be part of CSUN! Also, my “Free Lunch” program has been so successful, I’ve received over 400 entries and have taken over 30 students to lunch thus far!
Stay tuned for more information from CSUN! There’s plenty of semester left!]]>
Nine months ago today I was sworn in as CSUN Student Body President. Since that time, I have worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my entire life. Balancing CSUN with work, school, and a relationship isn’t easy, but it’s weeks like this that make it all worthwhile.
It was a productive week, as any week where I work 18 hours/day should be. The job of student body president is basically going from one rage-inducing meeting to the next trying your best to stand up for students in an academic world where we are treated like 3rd class citizens.
But this week was different, and seven meetings in the endless barrage of appointments made it so.
Meeting 1: On Monday I met with the IT Department about funding campus-wide Wi-Fi, and helping bring UNLV’s wireless internet into the 21st century. I’d say I was surprised to see how many buildings lack Wi-Fi, but sadly I wasn’t. I live it every day. My proposal to finish the job by the end of the fall semester will go before the senate this Monday night!
Meeting 2: After my Wi-Fi meeting I met with the Director of Veterans Services at UNLV and discussed how we can work together to help student veterans. I learned about the Yellow Ribbon Program – a great scholarship program for veterans with matching funds if you donate through UNLV – and I discussed my plans for a CSUN Veterans Scholarship, which I plan to work on in the coming weeks.
Meeting 3: The UNLV Parking Committee meeting. This meeting is always a blast and this week was no exception. However, nothing was going to dampen my spirits at this meeting – not even when a new faculty member to the committee said that students should have to walk to class from Thomas & Mack instead of parking closer (typical). Why, you ask? Because parking rates aren’t going up until Fiscal Year 2015. And that, after all, is the main reason I go to these meetings. Also – we made an official recommendation for Parking Lot I (immediately northeast of the library) to now allow student parking in staff spaces after 5pm instead of 7pm. (It was the only lot that began at 7pm, resulting in “surprise tickets” for some students.)
Meeting 4: Lied Library – Special Collections. Did you know that UNLV used to have a yearbook? The 1986 edition is sitting in my office temporarily on loan, thanks to Tom Sommer in the Special Collections department. The library has CSUN meeting minutes all the way back to 1973 and I am looking forward to beginning a project that will digitize these files so students can see what CSUN has done throughout the years – online!
Meeting 5: The Rebel Yell Advisory Board. Today, the faculty representative to the board brought forward a measure to remove the ex officio (non-voting) CSUN seat. While the board has 6 voting student seats (a majority of the board), it is rare for all six students to be able to attend at the same time. It is imperative that students do not lose their strong voice on the board of their student newspaper. And I’m proud to say that the students stuck together today, and were joined by well-respected journalist Steve Sebelius and UNLV staffer Diane Russell – to ensure that CSUN continues to represent the student body on that board in its appropriate non-voting role.
Meeting 6: Immediately following the RYAB meeting, I met with the Director of the CSUN Preschool at UNLV to discuss a Bylaw to permanently fund the preschool. The Bylaw, which I will present to the Bylaws Committee tomorrow morning and the full Senate on Monday, will allocate $25,000 to the CSUN Preschool each fall, in a lump sum (as requested by the preschool), so long as the number of undergraduate students’ children remains above 20% of the overall preschool enrollment. I’m looking forward to bringing stability to CSUN’s partnership with the preschool.
Meeting 7: I finished off the day by meeting with Senator Lou Pombo from the College of Engineering to continue work on what will be the new CSUN Constitution. First priority: Lowering the CSUN Student Fee from $2.47 to $1.97 – saving students more than $260,000! I can’t wait to get this on the ballot for students to vote on. It has been a long road, but the end is near!
The week isn’t over. I have two meetings Saturday morning before taking a break for the Superbowl. With less than three months left in my term as student body president, I’m proud to say we haven’t stopped working hard for students. Ten meetings this week produced some pretty big wins for students.