Students vote to mandate or abandon the activity fee
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 19:11
This week, undergraduate students have the power to decide whether or not the mandatory student activity fee will continue for the 2013-14 academic year. The referendum vote occurs every two years.
The fee funds the Undergraduate Student Association, its clubs and other campus activities like the Distinguished Speaker Series, Fall and Spring Fests, comedy series, film series and its day-to-day operations as the largest student government in the SUNY system.
But there are students who don’t see the value in SA.
“I’m voting ‘no’ in the referendum because I think SA has a lot of waste,” said Andrew Seier, a fifth year biochemistry and Spanish major.
Seier sides with students who believe in a “Darwinist approach” to the club system. He thinks clubs could still exist without the fee by having members pay dues.
He feels that instating dues would cause students involved in their respective club to participate more because of their financial stake.
“As for clubs that don’t have a stable footing for their members, and they’re really just floating by on SA money, I see that as sort of like SA running a club-welfare program,” Seier said. “So, I imagine there would be a lot students that – if they really knew what was going on – wouldn’t be in favor of a ‘yes’ vote to this referendum.”
He said there is no reason for SA to be as big as it is.
SA President Travis Nemmer said individual members paying dues would not work because SA provides not only funding, but also centralization for clubs. If the referendum fails, SA will no longer exist; there would be no collective-bargaining body for the students.
“We advocate on behalf of the students, and we are the only group this size and the clout that is able to do that,” Nemmer said.
Without SA, UB administration would have no sole student body to communicate with, and clubs wouldn’t be to exist “under one roof,” according to Nemmer.
Sophomore philosophy and psychology major Dan Yarger believes all students are positively impacted by the fee, whether they know it or not.
“If you’ve gone to Fall Fest or Spring Fest, if you’ve ridden the bus from South Campus at 2 a.m. on a Saturday, if you’ve used your credit card at any one of the places in The Commons or any one of the campus dining facilities, then you’ve been impacted,” Yarger said.
Yarger said some students lost confidence in SA because of last year’s scandal. Former Treasurer Sikander Khan signed a $300,000 fraudulent contract for a mobile application. Yarger feels the scandal only represents the bad choices of a couple people who were in SA, and not the organization as a whole.
“We’re all pretty young, none of us have been in politics before other than, like, model senate at our high schools, so we’re bound to make mistakes,” Yarger said.
Simultaneously to the referendum vote is the vote for this year’s senators. Students who live on campus and students who live off campus can vote for their respective representatives. There are six off-campus and six on-campus senators, as well as the six club coordinators.
When students go to the polls, the referendum and Senate elects are on one ballot.
Polls opened on Tuesday Sept. 18 and will close on Thursday. The polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre, and the results will be available Thursday evening.