At 4 a.m. on Feb. 13, I received an email from the Student Senate vice president of advocacy and outreach. This email was sent to all Organization presidents to inform them of a vote that took place on Feb. 12. The vote is one that will effect both current and future students. On Feb. 12, unbeknownst to students, Student Senate voted to support a hike in the existing Student Activity Fee. This would result in a 12 percent increase this year and a 3 percent increase each coming year for five years. In this email, organization presidents were called on to attend an upcoming Feb. 26 Town Hall, to speak about the benefits that this will have on their organization. We were also provided a list of questions to answer, that the committee will review and invite “a few” organizations to attend.
Let’s start with the obvious issue. This vote was taken without the knowledge of students, some senators included. This issue, one that will affect all students in the coming years, was voted on without ANY prior knowledge to the campus community. How is it that a body that claims to represent the students best interest, would vote on an issue of such great importance to the entire student body? Second, why was this email sent to only the presidents of campus organizations? The reason is quite simple. In the email, presidents were asked to speak at the town hall and “help the students realize that the increased fee is to give organizations more funding to hold more events…” Simply, we are there to become scapegoats for a student senate vote that is both astounding and un-democratic.
The fact that Student Senate sent this email in the dead of night and only to select individuals just proves their ongoing lack of transparency. The fact that we are being asked to support this measure, when many organizations do not see any funding from this money and those who do have to fight tooth and nail for it, is laughable at best. As the president of College Democrats and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, I in no way support this underhanded representation of democracy. If Student Senate were serious about representing their students, this would have been handled a lot better. I will personally advocate against this, and urge my fellow organization presidents to do the same. As students, we should have a say in our money and, with an increase in tuition for many of us, haven’t we all paid enough? This needs to stop, and the only way that is possible is if the students speak up!