There's a lot more at stake in the SA referendum than many students realize

This year, once again the Student Association (SA) is faced with the prospect of the state law-mandated referendum, in which students must decide whether or not the mandatory student activity fee of $85 will continue to be automatically charged to all students. This activity fee, which gives SA their annual operating budget of over $700,000, is what enables SA to offer financial support to nearly 40 clubs and organizations on campus, including The Lamron, and to bring many performance artists to campus each semester.

Initially, the prospect of having the option of whether or not to pay the fee may seem very appealing to students. Who couldn't use an extra $85, after all? But we must stop to consider what the real implications of what making this fee optional would be: many, many students or their parents would undoubtedly opt not to pay it, effectively shutting down SA and the main avenue for funding that many organizations have. Without it, cultural and academic groups would be forced to resort to only fundraising, or else have to stop their activities completely. For many students, these clubs and organizations play a very important role in their lives, and represent the bulk of the opportunities that students have for involvement in constructive activities outside of the classroom.

Beyond the loss of clubs and organizations, performing arts on campus would suffer as well, because a large part of the revenue that brings performers and concerts to campus through the Activities Commission would be lost. Given the important role that the arts play in Geneseo's academic community, the loss would be detrimental. Programs in residence halls sponsored through Inter-Residence Council would also be forced to scale back significantly, if not ended entirely.

As college students with fast-paced and often stress-filled lives, it is extremely easy for us to develop a sense of complacency when it comes to the many opportunities that we have for involvement in activities and student organizations on campus. We all must look past this complacency, however, as the reality of what would happen should the referendum not pass is genuinely horrific: some of the greatest opportunities students have for positive on-campus experience to supplement their academic pursuits would be largely wiped away. The College as a whole would change drastically, and certainly not for the better.

Given the importance of SA on the Geneseo campus, students should also take advantage of the opportunity to choose the leadership of the organization that governs so many of the opportunities for involvement in campus life. This year, the offices of president, director of business affairs, director of interresidence affairs, and director of student programming all have candidates facing each other. For more information on the candidates for these positions, see their profiles in the News section on page 3. SA plays an incredibly important role in the lives of many, many students on campus, and it is our collective responsibility as fee-payers to offer our voice in the organization's direction.

Voting on the Referendum and in SA elections will take place from March 26-28. To vote, long on to Knightweb, then click on "Answer a Survey."