This semester, clubs and organizations are back in full force. Club sports teams are competing in and hosting tournaments, theater organizations are producing shows for large crowds and multicultural organizations are hosting sizable, culturally-focused events. All of this is funded by the Student Activity Fee and distributed by the Business and Finance Committee (BFC). However, our pandemic level fee of $125 does not adequately serve these needs, and we are currently running on reserve funds. That is why Student Council is reaching out to the student body to gauge support for reinstating the fee to its pre-pandemic level, $150. We believe that this is vital to the future funding of the supplies and fun events that our organizations need and our students enjoy.
In the previous two academic years, strong COVID-19 restrictions and discontinuity in club leadership decreased the number of requests that the BFC heard. As a result, large surpluses were captured at the end of each year. To prevent this, in the 2021-2022 academic year the fee was decreased from $150 per student per semester to $125. At the time, this decision made sense. There weren’t many requests for transportation because travel was restricted, and events were much cheaper since in-person gatherings were prohibited.
Now, the post-pandemic reality has hit the BFC. Without additional funding, we will fund fewer publications, fewer club sports, fewer theater productions and fewer speakers coming to campus. The size and quantity of requests we have received both this semester and last spring are forcing the committee to be more selective. Additionally, inflation has increased the amount of funding needed for the same items and services. As a last resort, the BFC accessed reserve money to provide minimal extra funding for this semester. This model isn’t sustainable. Requests will continue to outsize the current budget, and the reserve will eventually be depleted. The only permanent solution is raising the student activity fee.
While there is an urgency to this matter, Student Council acknowledges that this money is coming out of students’ pockets and that a fee increase does not impact everyone equally. That is why, before making a final recommendation to Kenyon’s Board of Trustees, we are reaching out to the campus to raise awareness of the issue, answer questions and poll support. We are hosting a town hall this Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Community Foundation Theater. Next week, we will send out a poll to the student body that will be used in our final recommendation to the board. Student Council hopes that the campus will see the necessity of these funds and will engage with us on this crucial matter.
Melissa Nixon is the VP of Business and Finance. She is an economics and physics major from Rochester, N.Y. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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