By: Zoe Bernardi, Staff Writer
The newest project USM’s Student Senate is working on is to raise the student activity fee. The Senate is looking to raise the fee to the amount that the University of Maine Farmington has currently, $160 for the year (for students who have 12 credits or more), which comes out of student’s tuition. They are working to raise the fee to allow more funding for campus organizations, clubs, and other USM activities.
The student activity fee is the only fee from their tuition students pay that directly go back to them. The fee is used and spent on student clubs and organizations, plus all campus activities and events. Currently, USM students who have over 12 credits or more pay $110 per year for student activities.
The fee differs for each student and is based on how many credits each student takes. There is a bracket system, currently, students who have 1-5.9 credits pay $19, 6-11.9 pay $37 and 12 or more pay $55 a semester. USM has one of the lowest fees across the University of Maine System (UMS), the largest being the University of Machias which is $240 a year.
The fee is separate from tuition and would overall increase the bill for each student. However, the raise would mean that each student has a $20 increase in their bill. Students who have 1-5.9 would be raised to $40, 6-11.9 would pay $60 and those who take 12 or more would have to pay $80.
On flyers created by the Senate to inform students on reasons they should vote yes for raising the fee, it states that the fee would benefit students by creating more on campus events and providing more funding for clubs and organizations. This fee could allow USM to bring in more speakers, host more concerts and more activities could occur throughout the year, such as more PINGO, concerts, contest and other events.
Student Senate members Jamie Phillips, Alex Holderith and Averi Varney are currently working on this project along with other Senators. Phillips and Holderith said that the process has been me tenuous, and that it takes many steps to pass something this large. The first step is getting 200 signatures from students. After that is completed and approved, they would create a referendum. Then it needs to be passed by President Glenn Cummings as well as other school officials. After that, a proposal needs to be created and reviewed and passed by the University of Maine Board of Trustees.
Raising the student activity fee has been a goal of the Student Senate for a while, said Phillips. Phillips and Holderith explained that the student activity fee has been the same since the early 2000s, and since it hasn’t changed, each year the school gets less and less money. The funds have been decreasing due to the varying enrollment numbers and inflation. Also stated on the flyer, the Senate noted that it would be important and necessary to raise the fee so that the Senate can meet the high demand for funding all the things that happen around USM.
Drew Masterman, the business manager for Student Senate, said that the main reasons the Senate wants to raise the fee is because it hasn’t been raised in 20 years.
“That means that the ‘buying power’ of their funding has shrunk over time, since inflation increases steadily, said Masterman. More student activity fee funds would provide student government with a greater ability to positively impact students’ lives and experiences at USM, such as funding trips to conferences, advocating for students’ issues, advancing initiatives like free printing and the textbooks on reserve program.”
Masterman also said one of the biggest challenges is the long parliamentary processes, yet it is one of the “most valuable experiences garnered by participating in Student Government.”
For more information, the Student Senate offices are located in the Woodbury Campus Center. Or contact Student Senators, Jamie Phillips at [email protected] and Alex Holderith at [email protected].