Senate rejects Shakour’s student fee increase referendum

The Student Association Senate rejected President Audai Shakour’s plan to raise the student fee on Tuesday night in the Marvin Center.

Last month, Shakour, a senior, proposed a $1-per-credit hour fee increase to give student organizations increased funding. The Senate, however, voted to reconsider the legislation and will either amend the language of the bill to lower the amount of the increase or put in place new guidelines on how the money will be spent, those opposing the legislation said. Shakour said he is “disappointed” student organizations will not get more financial aid from the SA

“The Senate blew an opportunity to work with the executive and bring money and resources to student organizations,” Shakour said.

If the legislation had passed Tuesday night, students would have had an opportunity to vote on the increase’s implementation this month in a referendum. Instead there is no plan for students to vote on the increase this semester, and a referendum may wait until spring 2006.

“The most important thing was to let the students decide,” Shakour said on Wednesday. “Students organizations need this money now and by waiting to put the issue before them, now we will have to wait a whole year before students organizations see this money.”

Senior Sen. Ben Traverse (CCAS-U), who ran against Shakour in last year’s SA presidential election and who previously supported a fee increase, said the legislation in its current form was too drastic and ambiguous.

“This is not a dead issue,” said Traverse, who voted to push the bill back into the Senate Rules Committee for its rewriting.

“It’s hard to make an argument that student organizations need more money when last year $180,000 went unspent,” Traverse said. “There may be a demand for the money, but that means there is a problem, and we need to fix the problem before we give the SA a $1 million budget.”

Traverse said he would support a smaller increase or new guidelines for how the money can be spent.

“We need to bring student organizations together to determine a sound policy of how this money is spent,” Traverse said. “First we create a policy, then we can ask for more money.”

The SA’s student fee, collected every semester, is capped at a $15 fee. Shakour’s plan would have increased the fee to $30 per semester. Student body money from the fee is used to fund all student organizations and the SA’s budget.

Some senators are already pushing for a 50-cent increase rather than the $1 – per – credit hour increase that Shakour proposed. Sophomore Sen. Chris Rotella (CCAS-U), the chair of the SA Rules Committee, said that while he originally supported Shakour’s plan, he is now calling for a smaller increase.

“The cuts student organizations are going to sustain next year if nothing is done could be devastating to student life,” Rotella said. “Something needs to be done and we will determine what that will be in committee.”

In September the SA gave student organizations a 40 – percent increase in their initial allocations. Members of the Finance Committee have said if no additional funds are added to the SA’s budget through a fee increase or SA fundraising by next year, student organizations will receive cuts in funding.

Rotella said the Rules Committee would most likely meet over the weekend to redraft the fee increase legislation.

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