Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Vote yes on fee adjustment

By Garrett Gowen

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Evan Sahagian/Collegian

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 protected]



13 Responses to “Vote yes on fee adjustment”

  1. john on December 6th, 2012 2:25 am

    It’s only a 30 percent increase in student fees, our rate of tuition and fees has already been raised by the state and umass is among the most expensive public universities in the country.

    If we have to pay more than at least we should make sure that we can at least control that raise in spending for the SGA right?

    The increase in spending will primarily benefit a few groups which receive the majority of club allocations. UPC, The Outing Club, The republican club(receives I believe over 40,000 a year) and a few other clubs that will benefit less than 0.1 percent of the student population.

    The SGA is asking us to pay for a 30 percent increase but is vague on the details on how this benefits the entire study body. I am going to vote no!

  2. SHerlitz on December 6th, 2012 10:37 pm

    The Republican Club, in the FY13 Budget, is set to receive $20,455, the Outing Club $9,685. Funds are allocated for specific line items within the budgets of RSOs, not as a guaranteed percentage for each RSO, so no, this raise will not help only those RSOs which already receive funding.
    In fact, just the opposite. It allows funding to be allocated to things that are currently not given any due to a lack of money.
    This fee has nothing to do with tuition or the other Umass fees, since this one is solely student-based. It’s our thing. It’s what we use to fund our activities. Nobody wants the administration or trustees to raise tuition or fees (especially since we cannot track exactly what they’re for), but this is something we can control. The Senate spends an incredibly amount of time (all year) preparing next year’s budget line item-by-line item. If you ever want to know what it goes towards, you need only ask- there’s a spreadsheet.

  3. hm on December 6th, 2012 11:11 pm

    here’s an idea: why don’t our top administrators stop wasting all our money on their outsized salaries, needless and ill-conceived construction projects, etc, instead of looking for every possible opportunity to nickel and dime us? i am voting no.

  4. mason on December 7th, 2012 2:28 am

    20,455 for a club that benefits a small group of students; While environmental and social cause clubs receive a proportional fraction far less than that.

    So we should vote for a 30 percent increase on the one fee we can control so clubs like the republican party can receive tens of thousand of dollars?

    Also why should further support a SGA that fails to influence the administration and take action to reduce or freeze tuition and fee increases. The current SGA has proven to ineffectual and ineffective; I would happily support funding to a SGA that has delivered results but it’s clearly not the case with the current student government.

    I urge other students not to support more of the same and vote no!

  5. SHerlitz on December 8th, 2012 5:24 pm

    The SGA only has control over this one fee. The Republican Club receives only a very small percentage of the overall funding ($20,000 of the $2,100,000). Clubs do not have guaranteed funding and are allocated funding on a yearly basis based on very specific budget requests.
    The SGA is always pushing the administration to avoid raising tuition and fees, but can only act in an advisory capacity. CEPA (one of the agencies) is constantly petitioning and advocating for fee freezes.

    To hm:
    This fee has literally nothing to do with the top administrators. Everyone agrees with you that some of their stuff is ridiculous. This fee, the SATFm is student-only. It does not fund construction projects, administrator salaries, or anything of the sort. Your anger is justified but pointed at the wrong people here.

  6. mason on December 11th, 2012 11:18 pm

    Also this is part of the problem “can only act in an advisory capacity” The sga represents over 25,000 students and yet it allows it role and it’s powers to be delineated by the administration. Obviously the SGA needs to be assertive and willing to fight on the behalf of it’s students and do more than simply be the voice of student complaints and instead be an agent of change for student needs

  7. mason on December 11th, 2012 11:19 pm

    How much of the of the SGA budget is allocated for clubs?

  8. The Juggernaut on December 12th, 2012 12:11 pm

    The Republican club fees are higher as unlike the outing club, who asks for things such as vehicles to be paid for, brings in speakers. The Republican club also attracts more people to on-campus events, as compared to the social and environmental clubs (who often get more actually). I suspect you are more liberal than I and do not like the amount of money the Republican club gets because they are Republican.

    The money should be taken from CEPA, the biggest joke on campus. They receive 6 figures but can’t name an accomplishment that helps over 50% of the students.

  9. rob on December 14th, 2012 11:39 am

    The Republican club shouldn’t be allowed at Umass.

  10. rob on December 14th, 2012 11:40 am

    What do they call a Liberal that’s graduated college and started a full time job? A Republican.

  11. mason on December 14th, 2012 12:46 pm

    Who is to say who is right, I did not see the SGA budget listed on their website. They should post it so we can all see it.

  12. mason on December 14th, 2012 12:47 pm

    I did not see cepa listed, I remember seeing a publication or collegian article and republican club,outing club and UPC received the highest amount of funding.

  13. john on December 23rd, 2012 8:45 pm

    Juggernaut is a manager of a some factory or resturant, what would he know about the sga; he’s not a student!

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