The Geneseo student body voted to pass the referendum to continue requiring students to pay mandatory activity fees.
Every two years, students must vote whether to continue the mandatory student activity fee of $100 per semester per student. The activity fees fund all campus organizations and clubs and provide the resources with which the Student Association develops its budget.
According to SA Director of Public Relations and President-Elect for the 2013-14 academic year junior Forrest Regan, one-fifth of the campus must vote on the referendum, two-thirds of which must vote in favor.
“Every two years, it’s mandated by SUNY Board of Trustees that student associations hold a vote on whether to keep student activity fees mandatory,” Regan said. “Once you know where the activity fees go you would never want it to fail, to not have club budgets.”
After the vote, the Budget Advisory Committee meets to assess the amount of clubs requesting funding.
“Based upon a variety of things – like return on investment, how clubs are functioning, the number of members and fundraising, or how much money they are bringing back in – we allocate funding,” said junior Robert Terreri, incoming SA director of business affairs and member of the Budget Advisory Committee.
“This year it’s a bit more difficult because we have more clubs, but the same amount of money,” Terreri said. “It’s just about trying to spread the money out fairly.”
According to Regan, many students are unaware of the return on investment that the activity fees have the potential to provide.
“Most people don’t know where their activity fees go,” Regan said. “They are $100 a semester, and it’s very easy for a student to get more than that in return. You can get free legal counseling through SA, so if you have three meetings with a lawyer you’re over $200. Also, you get the concert and other events that you could never organize yourself with $100.”
SA Vice President-Elect junior Katie Becker shared her insight on what a failure to pass the referendum would have resulted in for students.
“Without the referendum passing, we would have been facing a radical restructuring of how [SA] operates,” Becker said. “The opportunities that clubs and organizations do currently would all have to come out of the pockets of members.”
According to Regan, despite the $1.3 million in funding that activity fees bring in, significantly more opportunities could be provided by a slight increase in fees. The SUNY Board of Trustees, however, caps activity fees across the SUNY system at $100.
“We’re competing with schools like Cornell, who not only have twice as many students as us, but their activities fees are twice as high,” Regan said. “Their [fees] are [about] $200 a semester and they have [over] 10,000 undergrads – and we’re supposed to compete with that.”
“I can see how SUNY leaders would want fees to stay low,” Regan said. “We are state schools and that is the purpose – to have a cheaper education for students. But when schools like Geneseo need to compete with private schools – and really every SUNY is competing with private schools – we’re already not able to match what their funding is. We should be able to vote at least on whether or not we want to pay more.”