Candidates for the Student Assembly (S.A.) discussed a potential increase and allocation of the Student Activities Fee (SAF) yesterday in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall. The candidates will vote on the issue next year.
Every two years, the S.A. decides whether or not to make possible SAF revisions. Currently, 16 registered student organizations receive funding from the SAF. The annual fee is set at 92 dollars per student.
“I don’t think that there is a doubt that the Student Activity Fee is the most important entity of the S.A.,” said Mark Greenbaum ’02, a candidate from the College of Arts and Sciences. “We need to maintain it and bring it up if needed.”
Other candidates commented on the use of the fee, as well.
“The SAF funds programming for events and other activities. We study hard, work a lot, and [the SAF] gives multi-diversity to the community,” said P.K. Agarwalla ’04, who is running for the international student liaison seat. “It represents the freedom to choose our own path and responsibility to support Cornell’s interests.”
Some candidates agreed that the S.A. should actively pursue diversity in the allocation of the SAF.
“The purpose of the fee is to fund student organizations that promote diversity. It’s our money. We should decide what should be done with it,” said Umair Khan ’03, running for an undesignated-at-large seat.
Other candidates feel the fee should work to improve student quality of life.
“I think that it is the responsibility of the S.A. to see that the fee is efficient to promote the quality of life on campus,” said Ari Tivon Epstein ’04, seeking to represent the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Candidates addressed the sometimes problematic identification of organizations which should receive funding through the SAF.
“The SAF can’t fund social events. Some groups have been trying to fund alternative activities. That is one area we should be looking into,” said Uzo Asonye ’02, who is running for one of the undesignated-at-large seats.
Candidates argued over the need to limit a possible increase of the SAF.
“Basically the SAF benefits the community. We should avoid making any preset caps and fund whatever needs to be funded,” said Mike Sellman ’04 of the College of Arts and Sciences.
However, other candidates believe that limits on the SAF may be a good idea.
“We have to take into consideration the financial decisions to come here and we need to respect that. Increasing the funds would hurt the student body,” said Daniel Braun ’04, also seeking to represent the College of Arts and Sciences.
One candidate suggested that some Cornellians may be opposed to the SAF increase since they may not understand the full extent of the fee’s impact on the community.
“They don’t want it to go up because they don’t understand the fee,” said Joshua Roth ’03, running for the Arts and Sciences seat. “Without it, Dave Matthews and Bob Dylan wouldn’t be able to come here.”
Racial tensions on campus struck one candidate as an important issue that needs funding.
“If we fund organizations that will educate, I feel that people will understand how it is to be a minority. It will provide education and I hope that the incidents will cease,” said Minority Liaison at-Large candidate Janet Luu ’02.
An audience member also questioned freshman and transfer candidates about how their relatively recent arrival at Cornell will affect their decisions for what remains a new community to them.
“I don’t think that your class shows your experience,” said another Minority Liaison-at-large candidate Funa Maduka ’04. “I’m president of an organization and I’ve gone through the stress, read books for regulations. I know what I am working with,” she said, emphasizing the extent of her involvement on campus.
But Agriculture and Life Sciences candidate Adam Fox ’04 countered, “I think that freshmen have an advantage since they aren’t jaded by the process of funding.”
Elections for the S.A. will take place today and tomorrow at several locations such as Willard Straight Hall, Robert Purcell Community Center, and Noyes Community Center. Students are required to show their Cornell ID in order to vote.
Archived article by Kelly Samuels