By: Jenasa Staples, Staff Writer
In the spring it was discussed, voted on, and approved by the Board of Trustees to increase student activity fees starting Fall 2019 but it did not happen. If you are a USM student, you are impacted by this error.
Alex Holderith, Student Senate Chair, when asked who is impacted by the lack of fee increase for student activities says, “It’s every student who attends this University. If you’re a student with a child, a student who can’t afford books, a student who wants to get involved on campus, a student who wants to see and experience Maine, or a student who just wants USM to be a better University, then this mistake directly affects you.”
David Roussel, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, says that the reason the student activity fee was not increased this fall is because of a lack of communication throughout the summer which resulted in the increase not being added to student bills. The error was then discovered by the administration in August after bills were sent out. “We needed to enter the new fees into the system so they would be calculated correctly on student bills and that did not happen.” Roussel says that when the error was discovered administration notified the student body government and took responsibility for the error. He emphasizes this error was in no way a student leader’s fault. “The error was made by the administration and was not made in any way, shape or form by our student leaders. They followed the process. It was an institutional error to not have the fees put on the fall student semester.” The administration has made a commitment to implement the correct student activity fee for the 2020 spring semester.
There are a couple of reasons students wanted to increase activity funds. One reason is to support clubs and organizations as well as student government and senate initiatives. The other reason, Roussel explains, is that it has been over 10 years since the student activity fee has been increased and USM’s activity fee was one of the lowest in the system.
Holderith backs Roussel’s statement saying, “Our fee was one of the lowest in the entire system and we saw the potential for dramatically enhancing the experience of students on campus.”
Each individual student’s activity fee increase on their semester bill depends on how many credits they are taking. If you are a USM student enrolled in 1 to 5 credit hours, your student activity fee payment will increase $42, if you are enrolled in 6 to 11 credit hours then your student activity payment will increase to $36 and if you are enrolled in 12 or more credits then you were student activity payment will increase $50.
Holderith says, “What I would like to emphasize is that there is no finger-pointing going on here. USM has been very up-front and honest with us about this mistake, and they have been very forthcoming in helping us understand and solve this problem. The best way to see any issue resolved is for both involved parties to be reasonable and work together for the common good.”