December 5, 2003

S.A. Approves $167 Student Activity Fee

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The Student Assembly voted yesterday evening to set next year’s student activity fee at $167, culminating an allocation process which has been the S.A.’s central focus for the last semester. The new fee marks a $43 increase from the old total of $124 and will be used in funding student groups for two academic years beginning next fall.

“I’m extremely happy with the increase in the [fee],” said Erica Kagan ’05, the S.A. vice president of finance. “It needed to go up. There are more student groups that need funding.”

Of the 21 returning groups which requested funding, 18 received either the same funding as the previous cycle or were given an increase. The most significant jumps occurred in funds for the Cornell Concert Commission, from $9 to $12 per student, and the Slope Day Programming Board, up to $12 from $2. The athletic department was the only group to request no change in funding and receive less than it did during the last cycle, dropping from $9 to $7.50 and provoking debate within the S.A. during its allocation meeting.

“Many S.A. members were upset with the way Athletics has been interacting with club sports,” Kagan said. “They felt that this move would encourage Athletics to work with other entities on campus.”

Frank Araneo, associate athletic director for business and finance, spoke to the S.A. during the decision process. He contended that a reduction in funding would have a negative impact on sporting events on campus, possibly leading to a rise in the price of hockey tickets.

“By doing this, you are sending a message that school spirit is not something that the S.A. wants to fund,” Araneo said.

Ian Wang, president of the Cornell Baseball Club, argued that club sports were also an important part of the Cornell athletic experience.

“We also build spirit. We’ve tried to engage in a discussion [with Athletics], but we’ve been stonewalled,” he said.

The only other groups to receive less money than they did during the previous cycle were the International Students Programming Board and C.U. Emergency Medical Services, both of which requested a decrease in funding. Three new groups requested activity fee funds this year: the Collegiate Readership Program, Haven and Welcome Weekend, which received $5, $2.75 and $3 respectively. The largest activity fee recipient was the Student Assembly Finance Commission at $62.49, which in turn distributes funds to a variety of smaller campus groups not directly funded by the S.A.

The final dollar value of the fee must still be finalized by President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77. The S.A. expects Lehman to approve the new number sometime before the beginning of next semester. The Assembly was originally given a target value of $162.

“We didn’t get a definite answer from the Office of Financial Aid [regarding the $167 figure], but we know there are members in the administration who support the [amount],” Kagan said. “We felt confident that … it will be accepted.”

Also up for discussion at yesterday’s S.A. meeting were resolutions regarding the proposed parking lot construction in Redbud Woods and Cornell’s logo. Representatives passed the Redbud resolution after extensive debate, urging the administration to postpone construction until further dialogue has taken place. Members also passed a resolution calling on the University to replace the current “Big Red Box” logo, promising to use a version of the Cornell crest on future S.A. documents. The measure passed unanimously and without debate.

The S.A. plans to continue working on these matters next semester in addition to issues such as club sports, final exam schedules and student stress.

S.A. president Nick Linder ’05 expressed pride with the S.A.’s work during the fall.

“I think this assembly made great strides in improving its credibility and accountability with students,” Linder said, promising to “continue to improve … and let students know that we care about them.”

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco