Student body fee increases for fundraising events

Fundraising for large-scale concerts, sports clubs and student organizations are the primary reasons behind an initiative to raise the student body fee by 87.5 percent, Student Body President Marlon Figueroa said to the House of Student Representatives Tuesday night.

The House voted 37 to 2 in favor of a bill that would call for a student body referendum on whether to raise the student body fee from $24 to $45 in the 2010-2011 school year. According to the legislation, an increase in the fee has not been made since fall 2006.

Figueroa said earlier this month that past years’ concerts had been paid for out of SGA’s reserve account, which was rapidly depleting.

When the student body votes on April 1, the bill will require a simple majority, which is 50 percent plus one of votes that students cast. If passed, the SGA Cabinet would then propose the increase to the university’s board of trustees for approval.

Speaker of the House Merillat Pittman said SGA could only attempt to increase this fee once per semester. In order to get the bill passed before the end of the school year, the House voted to move it up on the night’s agenda, postponing a decision on a bill to further regulate campaigning and one to research adding drinking fountains along the Greek jogging path.

Figueroa said it was important for the Cabinet to have strong support from the House when discussing the increase with student organizations in the coming week. He said support from these groups is key to passing the increase.

Details about the change would be listed online in the coming week, along with a place to direct questions from the student body, Figueroa said.

Much of the representatives’ discussion in opposition of the bill regarded the size of increase in the fee.

Freshman AddRan College Representative Saman Sadeghi said that while he was in support of changing the budget to meet the demands of inflation, the $21 jump was too much.

“Just because we can make them (students) pay more doesn’t mean we should,” Sadeghi said. “We should be responsible about it.”

Despite the concerns about the size of the increase, the House voted down senior College of Communication Representative Christina Durano’s amendment to lower the proposed amount. Durano suggested lowering the fee to $30 per semester, based on the government’s projected inflation rate.

Brian McDermott, a freshman representative from the College of Science and Engineering, suggested cutting unnecessary spending to avoid any increase.

“As I walk around campus, I see a lot of programs that nobody’s at, and I feel like it’s a waste of money,” McDermott said. “Maybe we should put all of that money into the concerts and cut all of these programs that no one wants to do.”

Student Body Treasurer Chase Bruton said the events McDermott mentioned were likely events not sponsored by SGA.

Student Body Vice President Jackie Wheeler said the Cabinet had done its homework in researching the amount it requested.

“I have been on activities funding committee and had to deny organizations funding too many times,” Wheeler said. “We researched this and found it to be the necessary increase.”