Students will be asked to vote this February on whether to increase the $1 per credit hour Student Association fee after the Senate passed legislation Tuesday.
The SA currently collects $1 per credit hour from graduate and undergraduate students each semester, up to 15 credits. The legislation passed proposes raising the fee to $2 per credit hour, up to 15 credits. The fee would also rise annually in proportion to undergraduate tuition increases to keep up with inflation, a rising student population and a growing number of student organizations.
SA President Kris Hart said the SA’s budget would grow from about $470,000 to just under $1 million annually.
“Students are the only source of funding for the SA,” said Eric Deleo, SA executive vice president.
Students approved the $1 per credit hour fee as part of a referendum during the February 2001 SA elections. But the initial referendum did not account for inflation or tuition increases.
Hart said the fee increase would help student groups, which currently ask for about $1.5 million each year. Some of the money would also go to the SA, Hart said. The SA was only able to initially allocate $238,025 to student groups.
“This raise is a raise I believe is good for students,” he said. “(The money) goes back to students.”
Hart said students will vote on the fee in February, the same time SA officer elections are held. If the majority of students who vote are in favor of the legislation, the fee will be increased.
He also said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and the Board of Trustees are in favor of the fee increase.
Student Activities Center officials, who oversee the SA, said extra funding would particularly help newer student groups, which normally receive $150 as an initial allocation.
“I support the proposal,” said Tim Miller, assistant director of SAC. “With the $1 increase, at least $300 if not $500 or $600 will be given to new organizations to let them do what they want to do.”
Currently, the SA gives out about $240,000 in initial student group allocations and uses about $113,000 for a co-sponsorship fund, doled out to organizations for specific events, SA members said. The SA divides the rest of its budget among its branches.
Some students said they might support the increase only if the SA gave a detailed account of its plans for the extra revenue.
“If they’re going to increase it, then they better give us reasons why,” said junior Ricky Slump, who called the increase a “big jump.”
“If they told us exactly what the extra money would be used for, and there’s a good reason, then I’d possibly support it,” senior Sarah Kirk said.
Hart said a fee would help groups gain more visibiliy on campus.
“I would love it if we were able to support the smaller groups,” he said. “For example, GW Students For Fair Trade do an excellent job on campus. More money would allow them to bring it up to another level. It would be great to give them an extra $1,000 more.”
–Michael Barnett and Elizabeth Chernow contributed to this report.