A Letter to the Editor: Student Activity Fees

By Owen Truesdell

The Financial Affairs Commission of Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) just finished preparing the Spring Budget for student orgs. In what is undoubtedly one of the most unpleasant tasks next to an O-Chem final, the FAC took $162,609.31 in funding requests and cut those requests down to fit a $60,000 budget. That’s a painful process for both the FAC and for student organizations. In order to provide students and student organizations with more access to funds, MCSG is requesting that students approve, through an all student referendum on Dec. 10, a $21 increase to the student activity fee beginning in the fall 2011 academic year.So what would this mean for you? If you are a student on need-based financial aid, you would see no increase in your costs whatsoever. Financial aid currently covers the student activity fee and would cover the increase in the fee as well. If you are not on financial aid, this modest increase costs you approximately 80 cents for each week of class. The ability to fund more student organization events and campus wide events is certainly worth 80 cents a week; every student will see benefits far outweighing the minimal cost increase.
What will an extra $21 a year get you as a student? The proposed increase will go to three main areas. First, $6 of the increase will go to MPIRG to allow them to increase their activities on campus (see MPIRG Op-ed for more details). Second, $25,000 will be set aside to create a Lectures Coordination Board that will give students a greater voice in what kind of lecture events happen on campus. Finally, the remainder of the increase will give the FAC the ability to fund more student org events.

This is a chance for students to get more out of their college experience. Student organizations almost always propose fantastic events and approving this increase will mean more of those events will actually happen.

On Dec. 10, MCSG will be sending out an email containing a referendum on this question. You will be asked to vote yes or no on the activity fee increase. This proposal has already been approved by the Legislative Body of MCSG and the Task Force on the Budget, a group of faculty and staff charged with building the campus budget each year. If the referendum passes, the Board of Trustees will vote in January whether to finalize the increase.