Along with potential candidates, students will have an important issue to vote in during this year’s Undergraduate Student Government elections—a possible increase of the Student Activity Fee.
By a vote of 16-3-0, the USG senate approved a referendum on the fee on Thursday, April 16. President Garry Lachhar said after a month-long discussion by the Executive Council, its resolution was aimed “to help increase campus life.”
The current fee is set at $99.50 per semester, and it was last increased by $5 in 2013. This referendum is looking for an increase of $5.50 per semester, bringing the total fee per semester to $105, with the year total still below the maximum amount of $250.
“An increase is definitely not needed,” Treasurer Kathryn Michaud said, “but if students want to be able to have those extras, those ‘want’ items, we’re going to need to have more money to fund those.”
Should students vote for the referendum come elections time, Lachhar said about $176,000 in unallocated funds would be added per year with the fee increase. Lachhar also stressed the importance of promoting this issue, especially by those not running for office next year.
“This is for the growth of not just this organization but every club on campus,” Lachhar said. “Of course you can’t guarantee that it will go to the clubs, but as a whole, our organization will grow from this increase, but only if people vote for it.”
Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson also presented the 2015 USG Constitution Act, which had been put on hold for some time due to budget discussions, and was approved unanimously, 20-0-0. Though many minor suggestions were added, two key points were the academic standing of USG members and office hours.
“We believe that whether or not you stay in USG based on your academics should not be decided by a fellow student, because they don’t necessarily have that best interest at heart,” Adelson said. “What the recommendation is, is that if you fall below the minimum cumulative GPA requirement to be in USG, you are automatically dismissed.”
Though this is similar to the previous wording in the constitution, Adelson said it is important to add “cumulative” in the laws because “if you have a good GPA but have one really bad semester, you can still be in USG.”
The GPA requirements for the entire Executive Council were leveled out to 2.5. The current requirement for a senator is 2.5 and 2.75 for a justice.
Adelson also wanted to address the ambiguity of “office hours” for the Executive Council and senate, since he said he completes a lot of his duties and responsibilities outside the office.
“For me in particular, there’s not a lot for me to do at the office,” he said. “So I felt it appropriate to leave it up to the administration to decide whether or not what you’re doing is conducive to your duties and responsibilities rather than the constitution saying you have to be in the office half the time no matter what.”
The Black Womyn’s Association had its budget readjusted after its appeal for more money to host its Emerald City Festival was approved 19-0-0. The association’s president, senior biology major Bianca Boafo, outlined the efforts her club went through to earn back the trust of the senate after the Appropriations Act passed on Feb. 12 had cost them their funding. College of Arts and Sciences Sen. Marissa Peterson said she would like to see these kinds of efforts from clubs rewarded.
“I feel like they seem really confident and they’ve put a lot of work into this so far, and I think that this semester was a big lesson,” Peterson said. “You guys had to really work hard to get the budget back, so I think it’s going to work out.”
One new club officially recognized by USG was the Alliance Française. The group’s president, sophomore political science and French double major Elizabeth Morgan, said the group was a necessary forum for students of French background or those learning the language.
“This club is important in terms of keeping the cultural atmosphere of the French department alive,” Morgan said. “It’s a small club, but we’re trying to grow, and it’s a great way to bring more diversity to campus.”