Student Association will put fee hike to student vote

Student Association leaders are proposing a student fee to increase the funding pool for campus groups by nearly 50 percent.

The organization is looking to increase the mandatory student fee by $1, tacking on 50 cents per credit hour for students, Chair of the SA Finance Committee Alex Mizenko said.

Students pay $1.50 per credit hour with a 50 cent match from the University.

Any fee hike would have to pass a school-wide vote this fall and receive approval from the Board of Trustees.

The fee hike would add about $500,000 to the organization’s budget, which is allocated to about 300 campus groups each year. The group has about $905,000 this year – down from about $1 million last year, but coinciding with a climbing number of student organizations.

Mizenko said this year’s $145,000 gap comes from less year-to-year rollover and fewer reclaimed funds from student organizations that did not use their allocated money.

SA President Ashwin Narla said the funding pool “just really doesn’t meet the needs of students.”

The SA’s budget has steadily increased by 10 cents for the past five years, after a major student fee hike was approved for fall 2008.

Student body referendums struck down fee hike proposals in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

“Until the student fee is raised, the amount we are given by the University will fluctuate,” Mizenko said.

The finance committee will hand out grants later this month, typically ranging from $50 to more than $70,000.

Only incoming students would be affected by the hike because of the University’s fixed tuition policy.

Narla said he and Executive Vice President Abby Bergren will communicate with groups about alternate funding options and how to appeal for more cash after funding is doled out Sept. 24. Last year, 44 organizations won their appeals, earning a total of $27,000 around the first round of allocations.

“It is unfortunate that there is less money to go around, but we are going to do our best to communicate with these organizations,” Narla said.

“We’re going to sit down with student organizations and explain, ‘This is why you got this amount of money and what you can do to get more,’ ” he added.

The SA has tackled University fees for more than a year, lobbying to lessen charges like library printing and transcript requests.

Last year’s finance committee held information sessions about budgeting and earning funds outside the SA to prepare for the expected dip in the funding pool. Mizenko said he hopes groups this year will keep in mind what they learned during the workshops.

“Student organizations will have to work even harder to be efficient, collaborate and seek outside funding,” the finance chair said.

Alex Veliz, president of the Organization of Latino American Students, said his group will have to rely on other resources to make up for their expected cut in SA funding, including fundraising and co-sponsoring events.

“We’re basically just going to do what we can with the money we get,” Veliz said. “We’re not too worried, but we’re hoping for the best.”

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