Op/ed: SAF referendum is first step towards amending the outdated fee

As a recent alumnus and a former student leader of AU, I am writing to enthusiastically support the referendum for an increase and redistribution of the Student Activity Fee.

The Student Activity Fee question has always been a personal one for me because of the tremendous impact that AU’s student organizations have had on my life. The four years that I spent at ATV influenced my career interest in broadcast media far more than my School of Communication classes did. And the work I did with both the Student Media Board and Student Government helped me develop meaningful interpersonal and leadership skills.

I now have a great job working for WAMU, which was made possible entirely because of everything I learned through student organizations at AU. They will continue to directly shape my life, and I will always remember them as the most important part of my AU experience.

That is the truth for so many AU students. Clubs, Student Media, SG and all of the other aspects of student life at this university are a deeply enriching part of the AU experience. Just because they are funded and run independently by students, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be supported with as much regard as the classes that our primary tuition dollars pay for.

Yet sadly, the state of AU’s clubs and student media organizations is appalling. ATV’s equipment is decades-old and falling apart before our eyes. After almost nine decades in publication, The Eagle can’t afford to print a weekly student newspaper anymore. Less than 50 percent of the expenditures desired by clubs get funded by the AU Club Council. And these are but a few examples.

At a college that prides itself on the engagement and leadership of its student body, the resources are unavailable to support these student activities because of an outdated, inequitable funding model.

Last year, I helped lead the initial effort towards developing a plan to restructure the Student Activity Fee. I am gratified that AU’s student leaders have picked up the baton and put together this excellent proposal for a modest increase and equitable redistribution of the fee.

I urge all students to vote in favor of the referendum so that future generations of AU students can reap the benefits of student organization participation that I have been so fortunate to enjoy.

Douglas Bell is a 2013 graduate of the School of Communications and is currently an audio engineer for WAMU.

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