Should We Check Or Raise?

Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.
Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.
Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.

At the most recent meeting of the Student Senate, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Goverance Jordan Taylor voiced a desire to increase next semester’s student activity fee.

Every other year, SUNY New Paltz students vote on as to whether they would like to keep the current student activity fee, or vote to allow an increase in the fee. This May, the option of raising the fee from the current cost of $100 per semester to as much as a possible $110 per semester will be given to students in a vote during elections.

We at The New Paltz Oracle commend the Student Association for looking at the opportunity to increase the student activity fee in hopes of bettering the campus community and many of the services and clubs it provides. However, we feel that the students should know where their money is going.

While we know the fee pays various SA funded amenities and organizations, students do not know how much money is going where. Some students are not aware of what the student activity fee covers. Students should not be mandated to pay a fee if they cannot readily and easily understand what that cost is paying for.

And while SA plans to include graphics on the survey that illustrate the various ways the money can be used, SA should decide prior to May’s ballot where this possible increase of funds would be distributed, and make it known to students earlier than the voting time. By SA obtaining a higher level of transparency between their use of activity fees and students’ understanding of such, students will be given a greater idea of what the student activity fee can support, a greater incentive to vote in the survey and a greater motivation to express their own ideas.

While we support once again, passing our current student activity fee of $100 per semester and all that the fee funds, we recognize that an increase may be a burden on many returning students’ shoulders.

Although a possible increase may seem insignificant when broken down per semester, it is a substantial amount to many students who are dealing with loans and tight budgets. The financial well-being of students should not fall to the wayside when discussing the increase of mandatory fees, but rather be the forefront thought for those who will decide the proposed increase and what that increase will go toward.

Students should not have to decide between a clear, budgeted plan that funds services for them and the realities of bills and debt. The student activity fee is meant to aid in the college experience, not hinder it.

But this does not solely fall into the hands of SA. We encourage students who have opinions on the student activity fee and the budget of its funds to speak up. Talk to a senator or attend an SA meeting. SA and their allotment of student activity funds ultimately are meant to benefit the student body – if only a select few voices are heard, how will your concerns be accounted for?