The Student Senate proposal to raise the Activity Fee by as much as 50 percent was defeated when the issue went to referendum vote in last week’s Student Senate elections.

A 56.4 percent majority, 315 of 559 voters, voted against the increase.

The Senate could propose another increase as early as next year, which would also have to be approved by students in a referendum.

School officials say the money was needed to continue funding existing programs and to bring new events to campus, such as major concerts.

“The Activity Fee will have to fund just as much or more activities with less money because of cuts,” said Jon Taylor of the Portland Events Board.

He said there will be less money for events like last week’s Beach Bash 2002 that featured free food and live music for students on the Portland campus.

Senate Treasurer Justin LaBerge said timing for the proposed activity fee increase was not good, as students are already facing a major increase in parking fees. Currently, students have the option to purchase a $35 parking decal. But next year, the average student taking 24 credits for the year will pay $96 for the mandatory parking fee alone, which will be doubled the year after that.

The administration also recently announced a proposal to force students to pay 5 cents per page to print in all computer labs.

“A lot of the people that said no to the Activity Fee increase don’t support fees in general, they would vote down any increase,” said LaBerge. “They just don’t care about services.”

Several students reflected similar opinions.

“I’m glad it got voted down because I don’t do any of the activities. I just come to class and go home,” said Jaela Costello, undeclared full-time commuter student in response to the failed measure to increase the Student Activity Fee.

Audrey Moore, a full-time student and resident of Wood Hall said, “I don’t feel the fee should have been increased. We pay enough.”

Ali Shaffiey, full-time computer engineering student disagreed.

“I would agree to an increase of 25 percent for the Student Activity Fee as long as the students received a variety of entertainment events throughout campus.”

The majority of USM students voted against the Activity Fee increase.

The Student Senate, which proposed the increase, said it was “intended to keep pace with inflation and allow the Student Senate to expand its current programs to include activities such as nationally recognized concerts.”

The Student Senate, The Free Press, WMPG, Portland Events and Gorham Events use money generated from the Student Activity Fee.

The last Activity Fee increase was seven years ago.

Staff Writer Stuart Koretsky can be contacted at: stuart.koretsky @maine.edu

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