Chinook Fee Increase Initiative

The Chinook Student Center is an important part of student life on campus, serving more than 1,200 students each day and about 85% of students throughout the year.  

To support Chinook operations, all Pullman-based undergraduate students enrolled in 7 or more credit hours during the fall/spring semesters pay a mandatory fee of $98/semester. (The $59 summer fee  is prorated for students taking 1 or 2 credits.)

To continue its mission to support student health and well-being, the Chinook is proposing a 5% increase in its mandatory fee. The fee would increase $5 per semester, to $103/semester. Students will vote on the proposed increase during the ASWSU elections March 5-6, 2024.

Fee Increase Initiative

The Chinook mandatory fee has not increased since the facility opened in 2017. The proposed $5/semester increase will help the Chinook adjust to rising costs and declining revenues.

Since 2017, minimum wage has increased 42% and the cost of goods and services has gone up 20%, while total fee collection has decreased due to declining enrollment. The Chinook will collect $610,922 less in 2023-24 than it collected in 2017-18.

The proposed increase will: 

  • Allow the Chinook to maintain its current hours of operation, maintenance, and custodial support.   
  • Maintain student employment at existing levels. The Chinook employs about 125 students each year. 
  • Help the Chinook offer the same great programming and spaces to students.
  • Assist in covering the $1.92 million annual bond payment. 

Declining fee collection has already affected Chinook hours and operations. In 2023-24, for the first time since it opened, the Chinook reduced facility hours. To further lower its operating losses, the Chinook will be closed for summer 2024. 

Without a fee increase, the Chinook will be forced to further reduce services for students in the academic year, including:

  • Additional cuts to building hours (30-35 fewer open hours each week)
  • Closing the eSports lounge
  • Reductions in student jobs
  • Deferral of vital maintenance projects and equipment replacement
  • Continued closure during the summer months


Fee Increase Process

The UREC Advisory Board, which has majority representation from students (11 of 16 seats) and includes representatives from ASWSU and GPSA, supports the proposed increase.  

The increase is slated as a ballot initiative in the ASWSU General Elections on March 5-6, 2024. To pass, more than 20% of undergraduate students must submit ballots, and more than 50% of those votes must support the fee increase.

The initiative would also give the ASWSU Senate the authority to raise the fee by no more than 5% per year in the future, on recommendation by the UREC Advisory Board and a 2/3 affirmative vote by Senate.

The Chinook can only raise the fee through a ballot initiative; the original referendum for the Chinook did not specify that a fee increase would be implemented with inflation. If the initiative does not pass, the Chinook will be forced to continue to reduce services.


Chinook History

The Chinook project was initiated in 2014 by students, who wanted to renovate the former Bookie building into a student space. The project design was completed with student input, and a referendum to create a mandatory fee to support ongoing operations was passed by undergraduate students in March 2015. (Graduate students did not approve the referendum; they do not pay the Chinook fee and do not have access to the facility.)

The $98/semester fee was implemented when the Chinook opened its doors in 2017. Since opening, the facility has seen 1.7 million users.