Section: News

Student Council hosts town hall discussing activity fee

On Sunday, Student Council hosted a town hall in lieu of their regular weekly meeting to address the potential return of the student activity fee to pre-pandemic levels. President Ubongabasi Asuquo ’23, Vice President for Business and Finance Melissa Nixon ’23, Vice President for Student Life Bijan Khaghani ’23 and Campus Senate Student Co-Chair Delaney Gallagher ’23 discussed the proposal and answered questions from students. 

The student activity fee is a mandatory charge that is added to students’ tuition each semester. The fee keeps events free for students and helps fund the various clubs and student organizations that the College supports. The amount was reduced during the pandemic from $150 to $125 due to the lack of in-person events. Now that students are back on campus, clubs both new and old are requesting money that the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) is quickly running out of. To address this lack of funding, Nixon suggested that the fee be raised to at least its former amount. 

Through a recent review of the BFC bylaws, the Council was able to make the process for requesting funding more equitable and accessible, such as permitting funding for a wider variety of events, including anti-racism events and food for cultural nights. If the activity fee does not increase, Nixon stressed that the BFC will be forced to restrict funding, which will impact the longevity of student organizations. Newer clubs especially rely on BFC funds to support them in their initial stages. “I don’t want to have to say no to the birding club,” said Khaghani. 

Chair of the Housing and Dining Committee Ever Croffoot-Suede ’23 pointed out that the quality and quantity of events will also be hampered if the BFC continues to run low on funds. Expenditures such as food for cultural events and equipment for campus contributions have been affected by inflation and therefore deplete more and more of the BFC’s funds. 

One of the primary concerns surrounding the potential increase of the student activity fee raised at the town hall is its impact on students receiving financial aid. The Council is unclear on the degree to which a higher fee could affect the cost of attendance of those students, but said they will work with Vice President for Student Affairs Celestino Limas and the Office of Financial Aid to assess the ramifications. 

The next step in reviewing the student activity fee is gauging student opinion. On Monday the Council sent out a poll consisting of three options: keep the fee at $125, increase it to $150 or raise it to $175 to account for inflation. The Council highly encourages students to participate in the poll so that the results are representative of collective interests. Once the poll closes on Sunday, the Council will collect the data and give a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Ultimately, the decision to change the student activity fee is up to the Board, but Gallagher said she has “a strong belief from the Board that they will only do what the students want.” 

If the student activity fee is reinstated or increased to the inflation-adjusted amount, the BFC expects to be able to more fully meet the requests of various organizations with little to no adjustments. The Council encouraged the community to continue discussing the fee because of its affect on student life moving forward. 


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