Voting for student body fee increase goes online Thursday

Online polls will open at 12:01 Thursday morning for students to vote on an increase in the student body fee from $24 to $45 per semester.

If passed, the vote will allow the Student Government Association president and vice president to submit the increase to the university Board of Trustees for approval April 8. If the increase receives the board’s approval, SGA members will put the proposed budget into effect for the 2010-2011 school year, Student Body President Marlon Figueroa said.

Figueroa said he was confident that the board would approve the increase if he had the support of the student body from the vote.

The vote will be done online using the university’s survey and election system on It will close at 11:59 p.m. Thursday night.

According to the bill’s legislation, an increase in the student body fee had not been made since 2006, before students were required to live on campus for two years. In order to be passed by the student body, the bill would require a simple majority, which is 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast by students.

Figueroa said the amount of increase was determined by taking the new proposed annual budget for 2010-2011, $625,000, and dividing it by the number of full-time students who pay the student body fee, which is just fewer than 7,000 students.

“We studied all of the different services that we wanted to provide to students from student input, what they’ve been wanting to see from student government in the last couple years,” Figueroa said. “We added all of those together and came up with the main figure.”

Cheryl Wilson, university controller and associate vice chancellor for Financial Services, wrote in an e-mail that the student body fee is assessed to all undergraduate students who are enrolled for at least 9 hours each semester.

Figueroa said the need for change was not only due to inflation, but the increased need for programming activities for the larger number of students living on campus.

The biggest change to the 2010-2011 budget would be the increased amount allocated to Programming Council, he said, the branch of SGA that plans events such as university concerts, Howdy Week and Homecoming.

Earlier this month, Programming Council Chair Alex Collins said this past fall’s OneRepublic concert cost about $140,000. It was paid for with $23,000 that had been allocated for a fall concert, and the rest was made up by outside donations.

The new budget would allocate $125,000 for the annual fall concert, and $40,000 for a concert in the spring.

It would also allocate $30,000 to each of the major campus programming events, such as Family Weekend and Howdy Week, an increase from various amounts around $25,000 per event, Collins said.

Student Body Treasurer Chase Bruton said the new budget would also increase the amount of money available for the Activities Funding Board to distribute to club sports and student organizations, adding $20,000 per semester.

According to the SGA Web site, the fee would still be less than schools like Rice University and Southern Methodist University after the increase.

Figueroa said the new amount was less than 1 percent of the cost of tuition, and far less than the average fees of comparable universities.

“For the benefit that it will provide, the cost is really not that much,” Figueroa said.