Significant changes to the way student activities fees are allocated and the amount each student will pay in activities fees may be in the works.
According to Jim Kreinbring, director of administrative services in the Office of Student Affairs, the fee has already been through several changes in the past three years. Originally, the fee simply went up $2 every year. After students asked for more funding, the rate of increase in activities fees was the same as the rate of tuition increase.
“Three years ago, students said there’s not enough money for the activities, and because we had a lot of activities we knew should be done on campus, Dr. Rombalski went and advocated for a significant increase in the student activities fee, which was phased in over the last three years,” Kreinbring said. “So it was about a $50 increase per year for the last three years. That won’t happen next year. That was designed to get more money for new programs and add more money for student clubs over the three years. Next year, it will probably go back to the tuition rate increase, I would expect.”
In the past, fees have increased about 2 percent each year. However, Jonathan Hinrichs, director of financial planning and services in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, said in an e-mail that an increase for next year has not been approved.
“It would be premature to indicate that the fee will increase,” he said.
The goal of the $50 increase in student activities fees was to create more programming for students.
“Almost all of the programming on campus was done by UGBC and student clubs,” Kreinbring said. “Nights on the Heights was just starting. There was very little programming on campus outside of what clubs did, and we just couldn’t expect clubs to offer more. So the goal in increasing [the fee] was to try to provide more funding without having to put more burden on the clubs to do it all. The goal was to provide more things, especially late at night and on campus for students to do.”
As a result, Nights on the Heights, The O’Connell House, Resident Assistant programming, and Residence Hall Association programming, among other groups, now receive a portion of the student activities fee, which was originally split evenly between UGBC and the Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC).
As for changes for next year, Hinrichs and Kreinbring are unsure of how many changes can be made for next year. Currently being discussed is the possibility that any carry-forward, or money that was allocated to clubs that they did not use this year, could be given back to SOFC rather than stay with the clubs as it currently does.
“I think it’s a possibility,” Hinrichs said. “We’ll work with SOFC and talk with them and see what opinions and ideas they have. I think that type of a situation would give them a little more flexibility, because right now, the money is still out in the clubs, and at the end of the year if there’s some left over, it would be nice for them to have a fresh start every year.”
UGBC is also considering what it can do to affect student activities fees.
“I think the one thing we’re going to see if we can do is get more student input in the overall allocation of the student activities fee … not just UGBC student input, but members from SOFC, members from RSOs, members from club sports,” said Mike Kitlas, UGBC president and A&S ’12. “Granted, that’s going to take a lot of time to set up, but at least laying the groundwork at the end of this year to see what we can do, have the conversation started, and hopefully carry it on next year.”
The one thing that is not likely to change is the fact that payment of the student activities fee is mandatory for all students.
“Students would see that it’s an option and say, ‘I don’t necessarily have to do it because the other students will do it,’ and that would significantly cut the money that would be in the student activities fund,” Kitlas said. “We would have to worry … No programs would ever actually be guaranteed funding.”
Kreinbring agreed that making the fee optional will not happen. “It’s part of our obligation to give [students] lots of activities to partake in that are enriching, and that’s just not optional,” he said. “That’s part of Jesuit education and part of BC.”