The Student Association’s (SA) student activity fee may have seen its last mandated days.
From Tuesday, May 1 to Thursday, May 3, the biannual general elections for senators and delegates were open to the student body. This semester, students were also asked to vote on whether to keep the $105 student activity fee as a mandatory part of our tuition or not.
Per the SA constitution, the student activities fee referendum requires a 12.5 percent student participation rate. If not approved, the fee will become voluntary and students can waive the fee when paying tuition, which will drastically decrease the SA budget.
In turn, this will directly affect the budget of clubs, organizations, programming and the ability for SA to continue being a functioning governing body.
Following this semester’s round of elections, the referendum failed to pass, with only an 11.7 percent participation rate. Fortunately, the student government decided to reopen online voting from Tuesday, May 8 until Thursday, May 10 in hopes of reaching the 12.5 percent needed. The ballot is only open to students who didn’t already cast a vote.
Like most club members, fourth-year digital media production and creative writing student Breanne Casucci finds the lack of campus support to be disconcerting.
“88.7 has been running for over 40 years and to give that up because people don’t want to pay the fee is really upsetting,” said Casucci, who, as station manager of WFNP, has already experienced major budget cuts earlier this semester.
The student activities fee and SA not only sponsors clubs, but any student run events on campus, as well as finances student research and conferences.
If SA’s budget decreases, the loss in funding could be a slippery slope towards other unanticipated problems.
“A policy we hold is that because everyone pays for the student activity fee, clubs cannot discriminate against any student,” said fourth-year international business and economic major and Vice President of finance Fousseni Baba. “Once you make that fee optional, you open the door to discrimination.”
Making the student fee optional would limit SA’s abilities to enact change and limit their voices, therefore ours.
A lack in funding would also create disconnect between the campus and town communities, and change the cultures of both alike.
Baba and Casucci also expressed concerns about budget cuts affecting people’s jobs. For instance, the center for student media recently hired a new director, and the loss in clubs will potentially affect her position on campus.
“If we lose funding, students could be deterred from coming here,” Casucci said. “It’s a huge aspect of our community that will be missing from students lives.”