Students will have the opportunity to vote on whether mandatory student activity fees will remain mandatory from Monday March 9–Wednesday March 11. In order to pass this Student Association referendum vote, 20 percent of students need to vote via a designated electronic voting service during the allotted time period, with a two-thirds majority in favor of keeping fees mandatory.
The referendum is mandated by State University of New York policy. If the referendum, held biannually, fails to accrue a two-thirds majority in favor of keeping the $100 semesterly student activity fee mandatory, it will switch to a voluntary tuition option.
According to SA Director of Business Affairs senior William Fagan, SA would have enough funds in its reserves to operate normally for one year, should the referendum fail, but the future beyond that is up in the air.
“Luckily, [SUNY] policy states that if this referendum fails we could hold it again next year, rather than waiting a full two years,” Fagan said.
According to the SA website, funding from mandatory student activity fees contributes to SA services including SA Graphics and the SA Ticket Office, standing committees of SA like Activities Commission and Inter-Residence Council and over 40 funded SA student organizations.
“This funding goes to clubs and optional events, which are a necessary thing to have on a college campus,” sophomore Danny Ruiz said.
In addition to asking students to evaluate whether student activities fees should be mandatory or voluntary, this year’s referendum will propose a $5 increase to the fee as well, bringing the total to $105 per semester.
“We think it would really benefit SA and all of Geneseo’s clubs to have this increase,” Fagan said. “We are predicting that the referendum will pass, the $5 increase will pass and SA exec will say ‘yes’ to a budget review.”
SA Director of Public Relations junior Nicolette Lukacs has spent the past week campaigning for the referendum alongside the IRC.
The focus has been tabling in the MacVittie College Union, attracting passersby with popcorn and distributing postcards and plastic cups with information on the upcoming referendum. According to Lukacs, she handed out roughly 200 cups and postcards on Wednesday March 4. IRC has also promoted involvement in the cause by asking students to write what aspects of the mandatory student activity fee they appreciate on a white board.
In addition to the tabling, Lukacs has constructed a bulletin board directly outside of the SA office and a banner on the SA website for students to gather further information.
“I could be advertising on the library screens or in [Campus Auxiliary Services] dining halls, but I didn’t go for it,” she said.
Lukacs explained that she plans to send emails out to the student body for additional publicity. These messages will hold key information for students wanting to vote, as they will provide the code needed to access the electronic voting service.
Lukacs noted that she predicts that most of the students who will vote in the referendum will be those living on-campus and actively involved in student organizations.
“Advertising to those off-campus tends to be a challenge,” she said. Lukacs added that she has not yet attempted to reach out specifically to those living off-campus.
Some students expressed concern over publicity of the referendum to date.
“Being on Activities Commission––which is directly affected by this vote––it upsets me that no one has any idea what it is,” AC Vice Chair senior Courtney Kristan said.
Sophomore Meryl Honig expressed concerns similar to Kristan’s, explaining that she did not know about the referendum until she was approached for an interview for this article.
“They seem to be advertising to the people that already know about it and will vote mandatory,” she said. “Why not put up signs in places where everyone can see them, or write on white boards in classrooms?”
Kristan said her apprehensions about the referendum derive from what she perceives as lacking student awareness to date.
“This [vote] will hugely affect us,” she said.
Referendum voting will commece at 12 a.m. on Monday March 9 and end at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday March 11.