March 26, 2012

Slope Day: Grad Students May Need Tickets

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Graduate students are increasingly likely to have to pay $25 to attend Slope Day after a proposed compromise to a funding dispute was shot down Monday by the Graduate Student and Professional Assembly.

Currently, graduate students can attend Slope Day at no additional cost to the amount charged to their student activity fee, which is a part of their overall tuition. But because members of the Slope Day Programming Board say graduate students do not pay their fair share in comparison to undergraduates, they may soon be forced to buy their tickets at the same rates as alumni.

In November, the GPSA decided to allocate $3.50 of the student activity fee per graduate student to Slope Day, despite Slope Day’s appeal to receive $6 per student. Members of the Slope Day organization said that this level of funding could lead them to reject GPSA funding altogether, a decision that would allow them to charge normal rates.

Slope Day proposed a deal in which it would accept GPSA funding if it could charge graduate students a reduced fee of about $7 a ticket. On Monday, however, the GPSA rejected this compromise.

Evan Cortens grad, president of the GPSA, maintained that the $3.50 fee per student that the GPSA decided to allocate toward Slope Day in November represented a “good faith effort on the part of the GPSA to fund Slope Day as much as we can.”

“The GPSA does not expect a free ride,” Cortens said. “We do not expect undergraduates to subsidize our attendance at Slope Day. What we expect is that Slope Day be constructed as an event that is affordable and welcoming to all students.”

However, Slope Day Chair Noelle Cornelio ’12 said the organization was motivated by the idea that undergraduates and graduates should pay the same amount, which she said they do not currently.

“We do have money to sustain ourselves without graduate student money,” Cornelio said. “After today’s decision, it will be more than likely that we’ll not be taking their byline money and that we will be charging them for the ticket.”

Yet Cortens stressed that the GPSA did not cut funding for Slope Day, noting that it received the single largest increase in funding of all byline groups funded by the GPSA.“That’s been the case for every year we’ve funded them, back almost 10 years,” Cortens said. “Yet time and again, they have responded by demanding even more money: This year, they demanded yet another doubling.”

Cortens also said that the amount of money that Slope Day already receives from both undergraduate and graduate student activities fees is disproportionate to the economic climate.

“The amount of money Slope Day has received from the activity fee has risen from roughly $163,200 for Slope Day ’05 to the $273,757 currently on the table for Slope Day ’13,” Cortens said.  “That’s a 68-percent increase over a time period when the University’s entire operating expenditures have risen by only 39 percent. This is a dramatic increase, and the GPSA has been the lone voice calling for moderation.”

Cortens said he believes that by rejecting the funding and charging per ticket, Slope Day will ultimately lose funding and attendance from the graduate community, leading the event to skew even more toward undergraduates.

“The consequences of [SDPB] turning down GPSA funding now do not just affect next year’s Slope Day, but also the Slope Day two years from now and chances of Slope Day getting funding in the future,” Cortens said. “If GPSA students are not attending Slope Day, that may diminish the value [of the event] in their minds.”Should the SDPB reject GPSA funding, graduate students would begin buying their own tickets for Slope Day starting in 2013. However, graduate students said they still support their funding proposals.

“The Appropriations Committee put a lot of thought into their recommendation of $3.50 per student,” GPSAFC Chairperson Mia Tootill grad told The Sun in November. “Slope Day can still take place with that level of funding, whereas the proposed raise would have taken money away from the GPSAFC and likely prevented one or more graduate student organization events from happening.”

Original Author: Elizabeth Kussman