The upcoming student vote over whether to continue making the Student Activity Fee mandatory may negatively impact all organizations on Oswego State’s campus if it is struck down.
Every two years, the Student Association (S.A.) holds a vote on whether to keep the $97 per semester activity fee mandatory for all students. This year, with recent increases in tuition and excessive budget cuts hitting SUNY schools state-wide, fears are surfacing that the mandatory fee could stand a real chance at being voted down by students, and be made just voluntary.
"I think the campus would become a lot more dim," said Christina Ballesteros, S.A. president. "The culture would also die out."
The fee sponsors every club, intramural and other extra activities on campus including Greek Life, religious clubs and SAVAC.
"Without [the fee] you wouldn’t have funding for your organizations," Ballesteros said.
"That’s all the funding," said Lauren Atkinson, S.A. director of finance. "So they wouldn’t be able to do really anything."
If the fee gets voted down, S.A. would only have a small amount of money kept in a reserve for the next two years. With no fiscal system to keep them up and running, "programs would be cut immensely," Ballesteros said, including late-night dining and spring concerts. the campus," Atkinson said. She added that if the fee were to be voted down, "it would be quite devastating."
"Voting down the fee would just hurt us in incomprehensible ways," said Student Association Vice President Stefen Short. "We would lose all clubs and programming."
Should the fee be voted down and made voluntary, organizations would have to be careful about which members received the full benefits of the groups., said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students James Scharfenberger. Only those who pay the voluntary fee would be able to participate fully.
The voluntary fee would also make budgeting difficult for clubs and organizations, said Scharfenberger, because decisions about where to spend the money could no longer be made ahead of time. The college would not know in advance how much money they would have to work with, and would need to start additional campaigns during the orientation process to encourage incoming students to pay the activity fee.
"You would have to wait to allocate your funds until you knew what you had. That would be largest impact," Scharfenberger said. He added that campaigning during orientation "would change things quite a bit."
Compared to private schools in the state, "our fee is very small," Short said. He added that it is right on par with the other SUNY schools, but that Oswego State has more programming and organizations than many of the other colleges. Oswego State has the second most programming in the SUNY system, while Buffalo holds first place. The amount of extra-curricular activities sponsored by S.A. would make funding them all extremely difficult should the fee be voted down.
In the past few years, the activity fee has not increased by much. The fee has already been capped at $100 per semester by the SUNY Board of Trustees, so S.A. cannot ask for any higher than that from the students. Still, budget loss and tuition increases may play a role in how students vote.
"It’s going to factor into it. I do think it will have some affect, but I couldn’t speculate as to how much," Scharfenberger said.
Ballesteros said that S.A. is currently running a PR campaign to encourage students to vote yes to keep the activity fee mandatory, and help them understand how important this fee is to campus life. S.A. will be talking to students during the next month, and hanging flyers to educate the campus and get every student to vote. The vote will take place at the end of March during S.A. elections.
"I don’t think people realize how much our organizations actually do for