This Tuesday and Wednesday all UP students will have a chance to vote on whether to raise the Student Activities Fee from $95 per semester to $130 per semester — about a 37% increase.
This fee is charged to every enrolled student and is used to fund recognized clubs, Campus Program Board (CPB), SASA, the Moreau Center and ASUP along with other organizations on campus. The fund was last raised in 2017, going from $85 to $95, according to Director of Student Activities Jeremy Koffler. This increase was used to pay for Rock the Bluff.
“I personally want to see us invest more in clubs,” ASUP President Nick Owen said. “They’re kind of the heart of a student’s experience here.”
A campaign for the special election will be run and managed by ASUP Vice President Olivia Mitchell and other students on the Elections Committee. Twenty percent of the student body must vote for the election to be valid and it will need a majority vote to pass. Booths will be set up in front of the Clark Library from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 19, and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 20. The voting will be done digitally on iPads, according to Mitchell. Students can also vote on the Engage app.
If the bill passes, Owen will present it in January to the Board of Regents, the executive board that oversees the university. From there, the board will have the final say in whether or not to implement the increase. If they approve, it will go into effect in Fall 2020.
The amount the fee would be raised to was based on the fees of other comparable universities. The schools ASUP compared to were: Lewis & Clark College, Saint Mary’s College of California, Pacific University and Seattle Pacific University, according to ASUP Director of Finance Brendon Wexted Hand.
Complaints about club financing sparked the conversation of increasing the Student Activities Fee. Clubs over the years have been expanding and the amount of clubs on campus has been increasing, which has stretched funds thin, according to Owen.
“While I am very happy to see an increase in student involvement through the formation of new clubs, it has had a noticeable influence on the amount of funding some clubs receive, and I think this is something the school hasn’t necessarily considered until now,” Active Minds President Rachel Mehlman said in an email.
For Fall 2019, the requested amount of funding from clubs reached nearly $200,000. ASUP allocated half of that to those clubs, according to data collected by Owen.
“We are a limited amount of people,” ASUP Junior Class Senator Sage Taylor said. “From our backgrounds, there are definitely perspectives and stories we don’t represent. So, rather than you having to come to us and say ‘Hey, will you work on this project for us?’, ‘Will you do this for us?’, ‘Will you help us with this?’ What if we could provide you with the funds to do that on your own?”
Austin De Dios is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org