A resolution to itemize and separate the Student Association and Program Board fee from the University fee on students’ tuition bills was passed by the SA Senate Tuesday.
The resolution, which passed 19-2, urges the University to itemize the fee to clarify which portion of the University fee is controlled by student-run organizations.
SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss said he feels the University fee is misleading because only four percent of the fee is controlled by students.
“It is deception and we are trying to end it right now,” Strauss said.
Undergraduate Sen. Alexis Rice (CSAS), a co-sponsor of the resolution, said many students she spoke with were confused about how their money was allotted.
“The purpose of this is to provide information to students,” Rice said. “So many people, when we told them, were shocked.”
Rice said she feels this resolution will make the SA more accountable to its constituents and inform the students where their money goes.
“It’s time to show our constituents what we’re doing,” Rice said. “It’s an issue of freedom of information.”
While some senators expressed concern about the feasibility of the resolution, both Rice and undergraduate Sen. Caity Leu (ESIA) said itemizing the University fee is viable.
“We’ve done research to make sure it is feasible,” Rice said. “We’ve looked at different proposals. We’ve talked to administrators.”
SA President Carrie Potter said she does not favor the resolution.
“We think students will hold us accountable, but we don’t need students to hold us accountable if we hold ourselves accountable,” Potter said. “Actions speak louder than words.”
“I have a hard time believing (the resolution will make the SA more accountable),” said Mike Gargano, assistant vice president for Student and Academic Support Services. “I don’t see where putting something on an invoice will prove to the student body we’re there to support them.”
“This is important because it holds the SA to a certain standard that we can’t hold ourselves to because our leadership changes every year,” Strauss said.
Potter said she feels this is a “minor issue.” She said the SA should spend its time on something “more worthwhile.”
“In the past, the University fee used to be line-itemized and students and parents complained,” Potter said. “They said they wanted a lump sum. This resolution is just taking us back around in a circle.”
Potter said she also fears itemizing the portion of the fee for SA and PB could mean that part of the fee eventually would become voluntary.
“Not one administrator would vote to make it a voluntary fee,” Leu said. “It would spell the end of the SA and PB. It would make the administration have to fund all of the groups and also control all of the programming on campus. They don’t want to do that.”
The bill’s supporters held a rally Tuesday afternoon on the H Street Terrace of the Marvin Center in an effort to raise awareness of the Student Association’s attempts to change the itemization of the student fee. At the rally, SA members gave students four pennies, representing the four percent of the fee that is allotted to the SA and PB.
Students also were encouraged to sign a petition to show their support for the resolution.
“We’re bribing you basically – four cents for your signature,” undergraduate Sen. Jared Hosid (CSAS) said to a passing student.
Strauss said he was happy with the results of the rally and said he feels it gave students the chance to show their support for the resolution and learn more about the situation.
Some students who passed the Marvin Center Tuesday said they think the resolution is a worthwhile endeavor.
“I think basically if you pay money for something, you should know where it’s going,” senior Scott Fagan said. “It’s a legitimate student concern.”
Other students, however, expressed concern that the resolution would not accomplish enough.
“I feel like what the SA is doing is a step in the right direction,” said junior Matthew Roth. “But it’s a baby step, when it should be a giant leap.”
“This is only the first step in showing accountability,” Rice said. “We’re making small changes in the right direction. I’m glad the Senate was in support of it. Now we have to work on implementing it, making it a reality.”