Tempe USG votes on two controversial student fee renewals

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government Senate discussed two controversial student fee renewals Tuesday, ultimately voting to recommend the Student Athletic Fee and to table the vote about increasing the Student Programming Fee until the next meeting on March 15.

The $75 Student Athletic Fee was first introduced in 2014, and comes under review every two years. It subsidizes ASU athletics, allowing the administration to free up tuition monies for purposes such as teaching assistant pay raises and financial aid investment increases. 

The Student Programming Fee was enacted in 2008 at $25, though student input Tempe USG President Isaac Miller received led to his recommendation that the fee be increased to $30.

Miller will take the senate's recommendations into significant consideration when making a decision about the fees on behalf of his campus in meetings with the Associated Students of ASU Council of Presidents.

Only their recommendation to renew the athletics fee passed. 

"I'm definitely in support of looking into the possibility of these recommended benefits (of the athletics fee)," Miller said. 

The fee's charter guarantees 25 percent of sporting venue seating is reserved for students, among other potential boons.

Miller's opinions received considerable support from members of the senate and audience. 

"If we have more students going to our sporting events, it reinforces the happiness of all our students," College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Ashwin Tatikola said. 

Lindsey Campbell, chair of the Athletics Fee Operations Committee, and Dan Ashlock, ASASU director, both voiced support for the legislation. 

The Student Programming Fee caused considerable debate. 

Miller said he supported the fee, though he would accept whatever recommendation the senate made. 

Barrett, the Honors College Senator Cristian Torres said he supported the fee increase. 

"We feel it's about time to increase the fee, since we have expanded dramatically since (it was first enacted)," he said. 

W.P. Carey School of Business Senator Julie Chase expressed repeated opposition to the programming fee increase over the course of the night.

She questioned why certain organizations, such as Sports Clubs and the Programming and Activities Board, received guaranteed funding, while others did not.

"The benefits (those organizations) bring to the campus actually expands beyond their individual members," Miller said in response. 

Other criticisms of the fee included a lack of transparency and looking for more reasons to spend money, as opposed to reasons to save money. 

"It's evident that ... this growth (of the student body) is huge. Maybe this fee is a Band-Aid for a bigger issue," CLAS senator Aundrea DeGravina said. "We need ... increased transparency for what these funds are going for."

Ultimately, a decision could not be reached, and W.P. Carey Senator Alec Davies suggested the bill be tabled until the next meeting so that more outreach and research could be conducted. 

Other legislation passed in Tuesday's meeting included a bill to allocate funds to the Enactus club, an international entrepreneurial organization; a bill to confirm Anthony Zlaket as the Spring 2016 Assistant Elections Commissioner and a bill to provide $800 to the School of Sustainability College Council.

A bill to considerably alter the bylaws was also tabled until the next meeting. 

Miller concluded the meeting with his thoughts on the decision to table the programming fee.

"You have four days to do as much outreach as you've done in two weeks," he said to the senate. 

Reach the reporter at Arren.Kimbel-Sannit@asu.edu or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

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