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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student Senate votes to raise Student Activities fee

Student senators vote in favor of raising the student activity fee. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

University Student Senate (USS), voted Jan. 14 to approve a motion that would raise the student activity fee by $20 per student, a decision which will be finalized by the Board of Trustees at their February meeting.

The increase, which would go into effect for the 2019-2020 school year, is intended to be a long-term solution to the difficulties brought on by the university’s previous cut in activities funding, said USS President Jason D’Antonio ’19.

“We were faced with the decision to keep [the fee] the same and be in the same financial constraint we were this year,” D’Antonio said, “or to increase it marginally and allow for future generations of students to really grow as leaders and as professionals in their own organizations.”

USS makes decisions regarding the Student Activity Fee every two years, according to D’Antonio. In their 2016 vote, the Senate chose not to raise the fee.

In previous years, the university provided a $108,000 subsidy to student organizations through the Student Budget Allocations Committee (SBAC). Before the start of the fall 2018 semester, however, the university cut this subsidy without warning, significantly limiting the abilities of the SBAC to allocate funds to student groups, D’Antonio said.

According to Student Senate’s fall semester plan, each organization that receives funding through the student activity fee sacrificed a portion of their yearly allocated funds in order to maintain that $108,000 fund and revive the Spring Concert, the budget most affected by the cuts.

Based on current class sizes and the estimated 4,300 students entering the university in the fall, the $20 increase will allow student groups to continue operating at the same rate as they had been before the subsidy cuts without having any extra money left over, said USS Treasurer Mike Efstration ’19.

“There was no extra,” Efstration said of Student Senate’s proposal. “There was no fudging at all. It was perfect.”

USS Treasurer Mike Efstration ’19 (left) presents the proposal to the Student Senate. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

D’Antonio said money left over from student activities at the end of the year is typically used by the university on campus infrastructure, such as heating and air conditioning in dorms or wifi in campus buildings.

“Because of regulations and the fiscal policy of the university, [student activity funding] can’t be saved and added to the next year’s budget, unfortunately,” D’Antonio said. “So we want to be as accurate as possible every year because we’d rather have students spend it than the university.”

Additionally, Efstration said, SBAC policy has been updated to ensure student groups do not leave any extra money over although he did not specify how that process would work.

Beth Hagovsky, Ed.D., director of Student Leadership and Activities, said she does not anticipate a major response to the increase because it is not a significant change for many students.

“Too often, I don’t think students or their families fully appreciate what some of the extra fees are for and don’t take advantage of all of the resources and programs offered at SJU,” Hagovsky said in an email to The Hawk. “If students took the time to understand their bill, we might see increased participation and engagement on campus.”

Hagovsky added that, while she aims to keep costs for student activities low, she also wants the currently available activities to be maintained, and the only viable solution the Student Activities Fee committee saw was to raise the fee.

“The committee all agreed that was the best approach,” Hagovsky said, “even though it meant our students and their families would have to meet our need.”

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