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May 18, 2016

Students approve SGA $28 fee increase

Cade Belisle/Collegian

University of Massachusetts students voted during the final days of last semester to pass a special referendum initiated by members of the Student Government Association that would increase the Student Activities Trust Fund fee.

The increase raises the Student Activities fee from $97 to $125 per student each year.

Proponents of the referendum said the added $14 increase each semester will allow for better allocation of funding for Registered Student Organizations and will also allow for more funds to be funneled into other student organizations, such as the University Planning Council and the Student Legal Services Office.

“With the extra amount of money, we can hope to see more events on campus, an exciting spring concert, and the continuation and growth of student services,” Speaker of the SGA Senate Hayley Mandeville said.

Just 1,172 students voted on the referendum in early December through the online platform Campus Pulse. It passed with 829 votes in favor of the increase.

Unlike SGA Vice President Garret Gowen, who wrote an opinion piece in favor of the increase in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian last month, SGA President Akshay Kapoor was not a proponent of the fee hike. But he said he feels that the matter was handled in a fair way to students.

“I was excited to have direct student participation and response to this issue by initiating a campus wide referendum, in which students voiced that they would be in support of the fee,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor explained that while the fee increase may not have been what he personally would have liked to see happen, he does feel that the extra income is valuable and will be an asset to the student community.

“The SATF is arguably the best spent money at the University,” Kapoor said. “My utmost goal has been to help ensure that every student can have the best college experience possible, while making certain that the University can be accessible and affordable.”

SGA Secretary of Finance Zac Broughton, a proponent of the fee increase, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the special vote and about what the SGA will be able to do with that money in order to enhance students’ experience during their time at the University.

“For the first time in years, the SGA Ways and Means Committee will have the ability to fund student projects and initiatives that enhance the overall student experience, rather than limit it due to budget cuts,” Broughton said. “This increase will allow student groups to expand their programming to new heights and it will provide additional resources to several of our agencies that work to provide great services to all students.”

“Many students found this to be a good opportunity to allow their constituents and fellow students to use their own voice,” added Mandeville.

“I think students saw how much they were getting in return for an extra $14 a semester,” she said. “I think students participating in student groups and those not participating in student groups will see the positive impact this fee increase will make starting in the fall.”

The fee increase will go into effect starting in the 2013 fall semester if it’s given the green light by the University’s Board of Trustees.

Ashley Berger can be reached at aberger@student.umass.edu

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