The Undergraduate Student Government Senate unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening in which it condemns the university’s lack of advertising of the proposed broad-based fee increases that will take effect in the 2014-2015 school year.
The resolution, which was proposed by Vice President of Communications & Public Relations Mario Ferone, is a reaction to the open forum discussion on broad-based fees that was hosted by the university on the afternoon of April 2 in the Student Activities Center (SAC) Auditorium.
Only three undergraduates attended the forum: Ferone, USG Vice President of Clubs & Organizations Kerri Mahoney and Chris Priore, a former USG class representative.
According to Ferone, the only advertising of the forum came from an email that was sent to the university community on March 5 by Lyle Gomes, the university’s vice president for finance and chief budget officer.
The forum was not mentioned on the university website, but the webpage for the fees did have a link to a feedback form. “We don’t have an issue with the fees themselves,” Ferone said. “The issue is the lack of advertising.”
In the resolution, USG suggests that another forum be held and properly advertised and that USG would help advertise the proposed second forum. Gomes responded in an email stating that “the University will do its best to accommodate this request.”
The broad-based fees, also known altogether as the comprehensive fee, are seven fees that are paid by every undergraduate student: the academic excellence fee, the college fee, the health services fee, the intercollegiate athletics fee, the recreation fee, the technology fee and the transportation fee.
Increases for all fees except the college fee and the academic excellence fee have been proposed for the 2014-2015 year. In all, the fees will increase by $61.50.
Each fee has an associated student advisory board. According to Gomes, each board has been meeting monthly on average since early fall of 2013.
On March 31, USG posted an informational video about the increase in fees on its YouTube channel. The video comprises interviews with directors of departments that are involved in fee-related decisions. USG and the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) both tweeted about the forum on April 2.
Gomes held a student media briefing on March 4 and met with USG on March 10 to give an overview of the proposed fee increases and answer questions.
The senate also passed a budget from the Special Service Council for the Veteran Student Organization, which was represented by president Jennifer Freire, by a vote of 14-6-0. The budget, which totals $528, includes funding for a veterans social and a charity event for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Senators then voted on a resolution to support a proposed funding plan for the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SBVAC). The plan calls for USG to gradually decrease SBVAC funding from the current amount of $164,435 to $40,000 for the 2018-2019 year. The resolution was approved with a final vote of 13-7-0.
In September 2013, the USG University and Academic Affairs Committee proposed another resolution that asked the university to finance SBVAC, which is currently funded by the student activity fee controlled by USG.
The senate voted 17-3-0 to pass an act that switches the justices of the USG Judiciary from a per-case stipend to a weekly stipend—$30 per week for the chief justice and $20 per week for the associate justices. The act requires justices to work on “special projects for USG” in order to collect their stipends.
Chief Justice Sarah Twarog said that possible future special projects include building judiciary bylaws, holding mediation sessions and creating a flowchart on the lawsuit filing process.
Meeting in Brief:
Veteran Student Organization SSC Budget Application was passed
Resolution to Support Proposed SBVAC Funding Plan was passed
Supreme Court Pay Adjustment Act was passed
- Resolution Condemning the Broad Based Fee Increases on the Basis of Lack of Advertising was passed.