The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

Tuesday referendum will propose increase in student fees

Student Congress meeting
Buy Photos Student Congress meeting

Students will have the chance to vote in favor or against a referendum that would approve an increase of $10 in student fees on Tuesday.

Student Body Treasurer Harry Edwards said he initiated the fee proposal after having worked with all the different groups that receive a part of the student organization fee.

“Although we are very hesitant to propose fee increases because we care about affordability, it is really a last resort, but we really felt it has become absolutely necessary,” Edwards said.

Ben Albert, the chairperson of the student finance committee, said the $10 fee would be split in half with $5 going to Student Congress to distribute to student organizations and $5 going to the Student Activities Fund Office.

“All student organizations that receive money from student government and Student Congress have to keep a pool of their organization’s funds in SAFO,” Edwards said. “This $10 fee would be split to Student Congress to distribute and then the other $5 would go to SAFO so that Student Congress wouldn’t have to make that contribution out of our funds that would otherwise go to student organizations.”

Albert said the fee increase would also decrease the transaction fee that organizations have to pay.

“Our number of how much funding this increase will provide to student funding is $150,000 of additional funding per year,” Edwards said. “That is, in my opinion, very necessary. Every year we get more and more requests from student groups for funding, and we are less and less able to meet that request.”

This past semester, Student Congress had over 200 requests for funding from student organizations, Albert said.

“There was over $760,000 requested and we had $170,000,” Albert said. “We were only able to hear 60 groups out of the over 200 before we ran out of money. Even with that, we were cutting down these requests so much that each group was only getting a fraction of what they needed to hold events and sustain their organization.”

Student fees first go to the Student Fee Audit Committee, which is composed of students, and then to the Student Fee Advisory Sub-committee, composed of a combination of students and administrators, Albert said. He said fee proposals then go to the Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force, made up of administrators and a few students, before passing through the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors.

“It is quite the bureaucracy,” Albert said. “It was either September or October that this student fee made its way through. They have all approved it conditional passing in this referendum. Each student-initiated fee has to be passed in a referendum.”

Edwards said a $3 increase in this fee was proposed in 2011, but it was narrowly rejected.

“That is the great thing about student organizations fee compared to almost all other student fees is that it cannot be changed without being approved by the student body in a referendum, which is fantastic really and that is because it was originally created by students,” Edwards said.

Junior Maddy Chambers said she did not know of the referendum, but supports the fee.

“Considering how many student organizations there are on campus, I don't think a $10 increase in the fee is too much to ask, especially because the extra money will benefit the student body as a whole,” Chambers said.

Albert said he is also in support of the fee.

“I think it is tough to see the need for it if you haven’t been at finance committee, or if you haven’t seen your own club not get funding,” Albert said. “But it is really sad that if you are in a club at this school, and you are applying for funding, chances are you aren’t going to get it.”

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