It’s election time again! No, the presidency is not in question, nor are students looking to become senators in the Student Government Association. On Dec. 6, 7 and 8, undergraduate students will be asked to approve an adjustment in the student activities fee of $14 a semester. As students log onto to Campus Pulse to render their decision, I ask you to consider some questions and information before you make your choice.
What is the student activities fee exactly? Every semester, undergraduate students pay $48.50 as part of their Bursar Bill. This money collects in the Student Activities Trust Fund (SATF), which currently approximates to $2.1 million. The Ways and Means Committee of the SGA Senate allocates this money every spring to Registered Student Organizations, agencies, student businesses and other student organizations, providing them with the financial support they need to function throughout the year. The money is used to pay for travel, food, facility use, rentals, speaker fees, recreation, supplies, advertisements and other expenditures that are key to the success of groups in their events and activities.
In recent years, the budget for student organizations has been forced to be cut in many ways, and now the SATF has to accommodate new challenges: the rise in inflation, increased cost for goods and services, the rapid growth in the number of RSOs and the expansion of current RSOs, among other economic circumstances. With this proposed adjustment, the SGA will be able to rescind recent cuts made to group budgets, as well as other initiatives like the Collegiate Readership Program. It would also mean an increase in the number, scope and quality of RSO programming and activities.
One example would be the Spring Concert Fund. For several years, the fund has stood at $203,000 annually. Yet some musical performers range from $75,000 to $100,000 just for one performance. Other schools are paying more for their performers, which makes it extremely difficult for low cost contracts to be negotiated. As a result, the University Programming Council is limited in who it can invite to perform on campus for our students. The Spring Concert has also historically been free for all students, yet in the past two years a $10 charge has proved necessary. An adjustment to the fee would save students money, and it would allow UPC to invite more and better performers.
The student activities fee is the only fee which students have direct control over. It is also one of the only fees in which you can easily demonstrate its benefits and effects. After all, do you know what the enormous curriculum fee or the nonsensical flagship fee do dollar for dollar? I know I don’t. All proceeds of the SATF go directly to support student groups, businesses, agencies and governance, as well as other student services that serve the entire campus community.
We owe it to all students to adequately support them in changing and uncertain economic circumstances.
Garrett Gowen is the vice president of the SGA. He can be reached at email@example.com.