Student Activity fee may be redistributed, raised
The Student Activities fee may be raised $15 and then redistributed to give more money to campus clubs and media organizations.
The Student Activities Leadership Commission, a group of representatives from Student Government, AU Club Council and the Student Media Board, will present a bill to the Undergraduate Senate recommending these changes on March 2.
“We came at this from the angle of the need for redistribution, because clubs and student media didn’t have budgets that would adequately fund their organizations,” SG President Pat Kelly said. “But also we needed to look at the fee and how that fee was not helping to make the AU experience the best one possible.”
The current fee is $73.50 per undergraduate student, according to the AU website. The fee has not been raised in about 10 years, according to SALC Chair Mike Wang, a junior in the School of Public Affairs. As chairman, Wang holds no vote within the committee and is committed to being unbiased.
SALC reached the unanimous decision of the $15 increase after reviewing survey research on how much students were willing to pay the Student Activities fee, Kelly said.
In addition to the $15 increase, SALC also recommended a redistribution of the fee’s proceeds, giving 50 percent to SG, 25 percent to AU Club Council and 25 percent to Student Media Board. The redistribution is contingent on the Student Activities fee increase.
SG currently receives 72 percent of the fee, AUCC receives 14 percent and Student Media Board receives 14 percent, The Eagle previously reported.
SG Senate will then decide whether to put these suggestions on a referendum at the end of March, which students would have to approve, Wang said. It is uncertain whether the recommendations will pass in Senate, according to Wang.
“They [SG] are the ones who have the most to lose,” Wang said. “It really is a question of self interest versus their commitment to democracy.”
If SG does not pass the referendum, SALC will have to collect 10 percent of the student body’s petition signatures, which is about 650 people, to get a referendum for the Student Activities fee changes, Wang said.
The Board of Trustees will decide on the fee increases if the referendum passes, while Student Activities will determine on the redistribution. If approved by the Board, the Student Activities fee increases would be implemented in the 2015-2016 academic year.
Money more evenly distributed under proposal
A redistribution of the Student Activity fee would increase Club Council’s budget by 117.96 percent and Student Media Board’s by 165.96 with stipends included, Kelly said.
The increased budgets would allow organizations such as ATV to renovate equipment and on-campus clubs to decrease the need for fundraising, Wang said.
“There needs to be a lot more money going to Media Board and AUCC,” Wang said.
According to Student Media Board Co-Chair Emma Gray, the increased funding to AUCC and Media Board would allow them to increase their involvement around campus.
“[T]he redistribution helps bring equality to a system that long favored Student Government,” Gray said.
Rachel Mariman, director of AUCC, could not be reached in time of publication.
The $15 increase would make SG more likely to agree to a redistribution of the Student Activities fee because more money would be available, Wang said.
The Student Confederation, now known as Student Government, established these percentages years ago, according to the report from Student Activity Fee Study Committee published in April 2013. However, the exact date of when these percentages were established is unknown, according to Doug Bell, last year’s co-chair of the Student Activity Fee Committee.
The Student Confederation was in charge of allocating funds from the Student Activity fee to clubs from the 1970s until 2005 when SG formed, according to the study.
SALC is looking to increase student body awareness of the proposals for the Student Activities fee increase and redistribution.
“It would be a sham of democracy if we put these things out to referendum, asked the student body if they want these things and they make an uninformed decision,” Wang said.
Disclaimer: The Eagle receives a portion of the Student Activity Fee as a member of the Student Media Board.
Clarifications: A former version of the story said Mike Wang has no affiliations with any of the three groups, but his role as chairman is to be unbiased and cannot cast a vote for any of the committee’s decisions. In addition, these proposals would begin fiscal year 2016, about a year and half from now.