Students, not student government, should have final say on the fees they pay

A choice made for so many by so few can sometimes be controversial

Before I begin my column, I want to note that this is not an attack on past or present student government officials, but rather a critique of an important process, that in my opinion, students deserve a larger voice in.

And that process is how we increase the charge for the Student Programming Fee.

Better known for the fee that funds Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and subsequently the Programming Activities Board (PAB), it currently takes $60 a year.

However in Academic Year 15-16 it was only $50.

The question was pressed to student government: should we increase the fee for additional services and events? Many organizations had great ideas of what they would do with additional funding and students seemingly were okay with it. Each campus ended up passing the $10/year increase.

But still, it gave me caution that so few should decide for so many, when so many are not engaged.

Despite the best efforts of student organizations, a multitude of students remain largely unaffiliated with the various benefactors of the Programming Fee.

Allowing student government the ability to not only spend millions of dollars in student money, but also to increase the amount without any checks in place, seems problematic.

See counterpointCutting fees won't save students money.

"Making that decision without sufficient input isn't fair to students," recent political science and marketing graduate Michelle Zimmermann said. "There are so many students barely scraping by."

Over the summer I thought of ways we could improve this system to make it fair to both students who are simply at ASU to get an education and students who come to nearly event.

Finally, it seemed I had balanced the different perspectives.

The students deserve the final right to approve or disapprove the fee’s changes. This is a fee by the students and for the students, and the students should have the final say.

Student government could still pass legislation for increases or decreases, but each proposal would have to be approved by the student body during student government elections. All students should be made aware of the proposals so they can become informed accordingly.

Students should also be able to petition their student government to lower (or increase) the fee, much like a ballot measure.

While perhaps the small details of this new system requires debate, there is certainly no doubt that students deserve a bigger voice in the amount-setting of this fee. It is their money, it should be their choice, and we should make the process accessible to everyone.


Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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