Straight from print: Staff editorial: Students deserve more transparency in where their activity fee goes
This article originally appeared in The Eagle's print edition on Oct. 21.
The average AU student is often characterized as involved and engaged with their community. Whether a leader in student media, student government or other organizations such as Greek life, it is not uncommon for students to spend over 20 hours a week acting in leadership roles.
In digging deeper into the budgetary process and its allocation, we are alarmed by the University’s lack of transparency in how that money is spent. Because it is our collective student activity fees of $88.50 creating the $1,070,000 student activity budget, we deserve more information about the processes surrounding its division and allocation.
Although Student Government’s Budget Advisory Committee is in charge of dividing the budget in equitable terms between itself, Student Media Board and AU Club Council, it is unclear if Student Activities and Office of Campus Life are playing a larger role in helping students divide over a million dollars or if college students are solely managing it themselves.
While we as The Eagle acknowledge that, as a student media organization, we depend on the activity fee for our own budget and our Editor-in-Chief’s yearly stipend, the current allocation of funds is not necessarily the best dispersion of the funds. It is true that Student Government is accountable to the entirety of the student body; yet we feel that other clubs and organizations that have more direct contact with students should receive a larger share of money. As a group on campus that is often far removed from students, we believe that the money in the budget should be spread more equitably amongst other community leaders.
Currently, the positions that receive stipends are almost entirely concentrated at the top; however, students who serve in other roles that may not be as prominent also deserve financial recognition. For many students, finances are a dominating factor in what they may choose to do during their time at AU. No student should have to choose between becoming involved in clubs and organizations or struggling financially.
In order to ensure a more equitable distribution of the student activity fee, perhaps it is time to revisit programming efforts from Student Government. Events like Founders Day Ball may be traditional, however, there has never been a time when the entire student body has been able to attend due to the size constraints of the venues chosen.
Although it is a tradition, perhaps in the future the event can comprise less of the budget and be available to members of the community who are willing to pay for it. Furthermore, instead of concentrating programming funds in Student Government offices, more of the money should be given to clubs and organizations in order to be able to independently represent student interests.
The events to which our activity fee are given are often superfluous and unattended by the community as a whole. Lessening these events would not only allow for more money to be placed directly in student hands, but also give way for more student leaders to be compensated for the work that they do.
As AU students, we are trailblazers, we are opportunists, we are go-getters. The work that we do is important and we know it. It’s time that our work is recognized as real work that is worthy of payment. Our leaders are valuable and make our community better, the best way we can recognize this is to place our confidence in them through stipends by way of our student activity fee.