Senate rejects proposal to increase class dues by one dollar
The Student Senate rejected a proposal to increase class dues by one dollar. Class dues, a subsection of the activity fee, are used to fund the class councils and Undergraduate Council. Currently, each class council receives $13.50 per undergraduate student, totaling around $20,000 per year. Of that, roughly half is spent during the year and the other half is saved for Senior Week. The UC receives 50 cents per undergraduate student, totaling $3,000 per year. The proposal would have the one dollar increase allocated such that 50 cents went to a student’s class council and 50 cents went to the UC. This would result in each class council receiving $14.00 per undergraduate, while the UC would receive one dollar per undergraduate.
Undergraduate President Ria Massoni ’24 stated that the goal of the change was to make it possible for every class council to hold an event at the end of each semester, and also to send two members of student government to a National Association for Campus Activities Conference. NACA is meant to connect students with vendors, resources, as well as offer training to students. The idea would be to send a senior and sophomore to the conference so that the former would be able to find discounts for Senior Week, and the latter would receive training that they could bring back with them to their class council. Massoni also stressed that by increasing how much the UC receives, they will be able to hold more “cross-council events.”
Senator Ben Viner ’24 responded to Massoni by stating that by increasing the activity fee, students would be directly paying for it; therefore, the students should be receiving a direct benefit. Viner went on to say that sending two students to an NACA Conference would not have that direct benefit. Viner was also concerned that there was no guarantee that the students sent to NACA would stay in student government. He argued that “the money we spent for one person, which according to the presentation is $600, would be lost.” In regards to cross-council events, the senator mentioned that the class councils should be able to coordinate events by themselves and the UC should oversee that cooperation.
In a rebuttal, Massoni noted that, in regards to NACA, “a senior is going because they are going to know what they are looking for and are able to share that with the rest of the class councils…a sophomore will get a whole lot of training that they can share with their class council.” In regards to Viner’s concerns about class council events, Massoni stated that the class councils “do fund events; it's just that the class council [doesn't] have enough money to fund more than their own events, given that their budget hasn’t changed since 2009. So they can’t fund events for all undergraduates.”
Viner responded that since the UC budget's 50 cents increase in 2020, they have not had a year without COVID-19 to see what they can do with that money. He also stated that it would be premature to give the class councils money when they do not know what they can do with what they already have.
The debate was then opened to all members of the Senate. Senate-Executive Board Liaison Raven Levitt ’26 brought up how inflation has reduced the purchasing power of class councils and UC. Class of 2025 council member Philip Paterson stated that, from his experience, it is “more of a trouble finding out what to do with a certain amount of funds.” He went on to ask if older class councils had issues with finding events to spend funds on. Massoni responded that before COVID-19, “class councils did use all of the funding that they were able to.”
Member-at-Large Nick Longchamp ’24 argued that clubs worked better for connecting undergraduates rather than events. Longchamp went on to argue that if the activity fee was increased, that money should go to clubs instead of the class councils. Vice Grand Marshal Alex Patterson ’23 asked what students who have been to NACA have gained from attending. Massoni replied that from conversations she has had, the conference is better for helping with planning of larger events such as GM Week or Union After Dark.
Viner added that if the class councils were given more money, it would be used for Senior Week and not events during the semester. Patterson asked Massoni if the UC has tried to seek funding from the class councils instead for cross-council events. She responded that some of the class councils have not had quorum, so the UC can’t obtain the necessary funding. She also added that budgeting should not be based on current status, but future status.
Debate ended after Patterson called for a roll call vote on the proposal. The motion to increase the activity fee by one dollar failed 0‒10‒3.
After the discussion about the activity fees, the meeting switched focus to the impeachment of Gabriel Tambellini ’24 due to consistent unexcused absences. The impeachment was originally meant to be held in the previous meeting, however, Tambellini had spoken with Grand Marshal Cait Bennett ’22G stating that he would be able to attend the following meeting. Tambellini did not show up and was impeached unanimously.
This Student Senate meeting was held on October 26. The next Senate meeting is Wednesday at 8 pm in the Student Government Suite.