Differing opinions on a proposed increase in the student program fee for next year have come out of each campus’ student government over the last two weeks, with the issue coming to a vote in Tempe on Tuesday.
Students currently pay a $25-per-semester fee that goes to the student governments. That money is reinvested in students in various ways, including the bike co-op, athletics, club funding and campus events.
The Presidents Council, which is composed of the presidents from each campus government and the Graduate and Professional Student Association president, has proposed to triple the fee to $75 per student per semester starting this fall.
While a portion of the student fee will go to intercollegiate athletics and the Programming and Activities Board, the increase in the student government portion of the fee would go to improving and expanding many services on each of the campuses.
The increase would allow services offered on the Tempe campus to expand to other campuses, including the safety escort service and early polling locations.
The increase would also boost funding for other clubs and activities and fund the creation of Sun Devil Spirit Club, which is designed to boost school spirit and create a stronger sense of community.
“The benefits would [be] University-wide,” Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Jacob Goulding said. “Right now, money is tight, especially on the other campuses. They don’t have the operating budget they need to essentially be expanding or even operating efficiently.”
The Associated Students of ASU Downtown senate voted to oppose the increase last week.
“We did a survey, and the purpose was to remove the senate’s opinion from the vote and have it be based solely on student opinion,” freshman Sen. Daiyaan Colbert said. “After surveying 429 students, 56 percent of them did not want a student fee increase from $25 to $75. I drafted the legislation [to oppose the increase] after that survey.”
The final vote was not unanimous, however.
Tempe’s USG senate has also introduced legislation that would oppose the increase, which will be voted on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in BAC room 116.
“In my opinion, Tempe doesn’t really need this,” Goulding said. “We already have [money leftover from this year that will] carry forward, but the other campuses feel differently. Keep in mind this money will all go back to students.”
Even with the carry forward, USG would still get a portion of the additional money. How much each campus government receives will be decided by ASU President Michael Crow and the student government Presidents Council should the increase be approved.
The USG West senate is expected to take the opposite view of the Downtown and Tempe campuses and will vote on its resolution to support the increase on Friday.
Legislation stating USGW’s support was introduced last week and led to much discussion, with the primary objection focusing on how the additional money will be used.
“There are a few senators holding out for a few different reasons, but I am thinking we are going to support it. I’m not 100 percent on that, but the feeling in the room was pretty positive [last week],” USGW Senate Floor Leader Chris Johnson said. “The major sentiment was that the increase is justified, but where the money goes was the major point of discussion.”
GPSA and the Associated Students of ASU Polytechnic have both discussed the proposed increase, but no official stance has been taken yet.
GPSA is in the process of conducting a student survey, but the association will take a stance on May 9. Until that time, its position on fee increases is neutral.
Although the ASASUP senate has discussed the matter, no legislation has been introduced to either formally support or oppose the increase.
ASASUP Sen. Tyler Collum of the W. P. Carey School of Business said he expects something to be introduced and voted on very soon.
“Personally, I am in support of it. I feel like when we’re facing budget cuts to higher education from the state like we are, it’s important everyone does their part, and I feel a student fee is a way for students to support their University,” Collum said. “You can’t expect your University to support you if you aren’t going to support your University.”
The final decision of whether or not the fee increase is implemented ultimately lies with the Presidents Council, however.
Because the total fee would still be less than $100, the Presidents Council does not require approval from the Arizona Board of Regents or the student government senates.
The stances passed by various senates serve solely to voice a formal opinion of the senates and their student constituents.
Once the final vote is in from each branch of student government, the Presidents Council will decide whether or not to continue with the proposed increase.
“It’s going to be up to the Presidents Council to decide what is a passing vote overall, or if we’re just going to try to get away with increasing it,” Goulding said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com