Students narrowly voted against doubling the Student Association fee to $2 per credit hour this week, preventing an increase that could have given the organization nearly $1 million.
In a 1,084 to 981 vote, the referendum lost by about 100 students. The referendum would have amended the SA constitution, allowing the organization to charge all GW students $2 per credit hour up to 15 hours. Students currently pay $1 per credit hour.
“We’re all a little bit disappointed,” said Eric Daleo, SA executive vice president. “We didn’t do a good job of explaining the importance of the referendum to students, student groups and the University community in general.”
The current SA fee was instituted in spring 2001, when students voted to amend the SA constitution to include the $1 per credit hour fee. The amendment made the SA financially independent from the University.
The SA budget would have increased from about $470,000 to almost $1 million.
Another fee increase would have been used to provide more funding for student group allocations and the co-sponsorship fund, SA members said.
Daleo said he thinks without the fund increase there will be a “stagnation” in SA allocations for student groups next year. Groups requested $1.4 million for programming this year and received about $300,000.
“I’m not surprised that it failed,” said Sen. Ben Traverse (U-CCAS). “There was a lack of publicity and campaigning and a lack of trust in the SA.”
Several students said they do not trust the SA to handle $1 million, and did not vote for the referendum.
“I’m glad that students are finally stepping up to the plate and saying no,” freshman Amanda Moretto said.
“They’ll earn our money when they earn our trust,” freshman Carmine Iaccarino said.
Sen. Asher Corson (U-CCAS), who lost in his bid to become the next EVP, said while he would have liked to see an increase in funding, he does not think students should trust the SA because nearly all reform legislation introduced this year had failed in the Senate.
Many student organization leaders said they would have liked the SA to get the additional funding because their groups need money for programming.
“I’m really disappointed that it didn’t pass,” said Thao To, president of the Chinese-American Student Association. “Every year we’re strapped for funding. We can’t afford to buy outfits, uniforms, lion heads or hire choreographers.”
Allie Robbins, a member of the Progressive Student Union, said the group canceled a planned movie festival and downscaled plans for a Worker Appreciation Day this year because of a lack of funds.
“It’s pretty sad,” she said. “Student groups are really hurting. We’re totally strapped for cash and we don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Tim Rice, president of GW Pride, said his group only receives “a small percentage” of the money they request.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “A lot of students are involved in student organizations. It could go a long way.”
A few group leaders said they are glad the referendum failed.
“I don’t like that my money is going to so many blatant pro-abortion student groups on this campus,” said Suanne Edmiston, president of Colonials for Life. “When I need money, I use money that was raised from people who knew exactly where their money was going.”
Edminston added that she does not know if her group will apply for SA funding next year.
Some senators have discussed the possibility of a fee increase that would increase incrementally with tuition increases or inflation.