What gives, Kyle? Why did you do it? Why did you vote against making the Student Activity Fee mandatory? Are you just anti-fun? Or worse—a libertarian? Do you not enjoy being coerced?
People like Kyle are the reason why we can’t have nice things. The unfortunate truth is that in a democracy, you have to anticipate the potential damage that comes with allowing people to voice their opinions. The 369 dissenters who voted to make the Student Activity Fee voluntary are a good example of democracy in crisis. What good is democracy if you vote against the common good?
Despite their fierce resistance, the results are in—the Student Activity Fee is still mandatory, thanks to the 808 patriots who voted “yes” for fun, child care, tutoring and SBVAC. To this, one might object, “But the people who voted against it only voted for it to be voluntary, not to abolish it altogether!” Away with your voluntary-ist tomfoolery! Any reasonable man can see that if the fee were made voluntary, nobody would part with so much as a dime to support student life at Stony Brook. Have you seen the election results? Hardly anyone voted on the issue in the first place.
The outcome, then, should be pleasing to you. Since the fee is still mandatory, the university will continue to reserve the privilege of extorting you so that you can have fun. This is a positive result. What would Stony Brook be without the stimulating lectures, exhilarating concerts and student groups like The Next Generation (how else would they pay for all that rope?) that make this campus so vibrant and dynamic?
Even if you are not so convinced that Stony Brook is vibrant and dynamic, the fee is still doing you a service. In the very least, it helps to compensate for the university’s soul-crushingly bad aesthetic appeal. Even if you are not terribly involved in student life, the availability of various events and clubs can help counterbalance the notion that your university looks like a gulag.
You should be glad for the Student Activity Fee. Without it, Stony Brook would be like Siberia. What do people do in Siberia? Drink, trap bears and drive tanks into convenience stores. Do you want Stony Brook to be like Siberia? Try to picture it. Orgo students huddled around a bonfire outside Melville, playing a game of Russian Roulette (Maybe this is already a common occurrence). People drinking…a lot more than they already do. Can you imagine how dull and bleak campus life would be? I certainly can. We would all be a bunch of grumpy nihilists. Do you think it is a coincidence that the term “nihilism” was coined by a Russian? Let’s not turn Stony Brook into Siberia.
As a member of the subspecies Homo sapiens commuterus, I am already relegated to a campus life of more limited social opportunities than residents (as well as the almost surreally never-ending road work on Nicolls). Having activities like The Statesman available is important for people like myself to find stuff to do and meet students with common interests.
But the Student Activity Fee does more than enrich our college experience. It also provides for some pretty essential services. Free tutoring is essential for many students who struggle with difficult topics. SBVAC, the university’s volunteer ambulance group, depends on its proceeds as well. The child care program is important for those who need its service. Many people seem to forget that not all college students are 20-somethings with no children or further obligations.
This exhortation may seem a little disproportionate, considering the results are already in, but it is my hope that students will be convinced of the importance of student activities and services in order to prevent the possibility of a bad decision in the future. To this end, I think the university ought to consider some reforms that will help steer the student body towards acting in the common interest.
To begin with, the voter turnout is abysmal—only 1,177 students voted on the issue. Stony Brook has the population of a small city. This suggests to me a chronic problem of voter apathy. To encourage civic virtue, I think we should consider implementing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of a civil religion. Instead of wasting money on new logos, we should allocate funds toward erecting a ziggurat for the veneration of Wa’alfie, the cult god of Stony Brook. Roth Pond Regatta will be elevated to the status of a jubilee festival in honor of His greatness. President Stanley, as high priest, would be responsible for the blood sacrifices. Establishing traditions such as these would inspire zealous devotion for the university and encourage collective action that would steer students toward acting in the general will.
I must appear to neglect the fact that the Student Activity Fee costs people money. About $100 dollars a semester. I realize that college is expensive—but if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a degree, you may as well spend a little extra to help make your college experience more than a drive-through.