SA faces referendum on Mandatory Student Activity Fee

From March 26-28, Geneseo will host its Mandatory Student Activities Fee Referendum vote on KnightWeb.

The referendum, mandated by the Board of Trustees, is a yes/no vote that allows students to vote on whether or not to make the activity fee of tuition optional. The referendum vote will coincide with but be separate from the SA executive and class officer elections. All ballots and votes are monitored and counted by the Undergraduate Student Association Elections Committee (USAEC).

USAEC chair Michael Bernola explained that the role of the committee is to "take in petitions, make the ballots, advertise for elections, and count the results." He stressed the USAEC's position as neutral.

Two years ago the yes/no vote went along with an approved separate vote on the increase of the mandatory fee from $75 to $85. SA Director of Public Relations Jessica Vigars explained the fee is not up for increase this year. "We think that we can cover our costs," she explained.

"I hope it is mandatory and I hope that people vote," said Vigars. The funds from the mandatory fee goes directly to SA for the services it provides as well as to fund budgets for clubs and organizations on campus.

SA programs include the funding of many non-academic clubs, the airport shuttle, Late Knight, the GOLD program, the SA ticket office and several undergraduate research grants.

Sophomore Rachel Podsiadlo said, "I think the activity fee should remain mandatory. I know we all like to save money here and there, but the activity fee isn't the place to trim expenses. GSTV, one of our SA-funded co-curriculars, is basically what I live for here. I can't imagine what life at Geneseo would be like without it. Eighty-some-odd dollars annually is worth paying, for the job experience, networking connections, and fun that I get out of it."

Without the mandatory fee SA "realistically would not be able to fund organizations," said Vigars. "Only the absolute necessities would be able to be supported."

"I didn't know there was going to be a vote on the issue, but I think mandatory fees should stay mandatory because the SA doesn't have enough funding as it is. If the fee was optional many would choose not to pay it, but still expect a lot from SA and continue to complain about how hard it is to get funding from them," said sophomore international relations major Jen Casinelli.

The SA campaign for the referendum vote began the week of March 5. Vigars explained that it includes informational posters, talking at club meetings about the importance of voting and general advertisements. The campaign is planned to culminate on March 22 during the All-College Free Hour in the College Union and outside of Sturges Hall to provide students with information and reminders to vote.

Vigars stated that, "I haven't heard of any opposition. If there is opposition I hope that we are contacted." She stressed opposition is likely from "lack of information or misinformation."