New Student Fee Switches Senate Funding

Allie Brennhofer

A new fee, which will go to fund Senate, will be added onto students’ bills for the 2016-2017 school year as the Student Services Fee is set to replace the the existing Student Activity Fee.

The new fee will be $95 per semester for full-time undergraduate students and students in the Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Athletic Training, Exercise Physiology, Physician Assistant, and Post-Baccalaureate Nursing programs who are taking six or more credits. This fee is replacing the Student Activity Fee, which consisted of 0.75% of every student’s tuition. When asked why the fee changed forms, Vice President for Student Affairs Steve Lyons said that knowledge of what the students are paying for was part of the reason for the change.

“Students have been paying this fee without really realizing it, and without a lot of input. Moving to the fee … keeps the cost the same for students, but is much more transparent. It also will give students a chance to have more of a voice in the use of the fee,” Lyons said in an email interview.

Many students, when asked to voice their thoughts on the change, were hesitant to do so. Most cited the lack of information as a reason for not wanting to weigh in on the change. However, one student was willing to voice their opinion on the matter.

“It seems weird. It seems easier if they would just do it the old way,” freshman Arden Havermehl said.

This new amount equals out to a slightly smaller figure than the percentage given to Student Senate in the past.

“Senate has become over time a funding source for many programs and departments. It’s a difficult burden to decide how to fairly allocate funds, especially when often requests are very specific to certain areas. So the smaller amount will go to support general clubs, organizations, and broad initiatives that improve student life. We intend to give institutional funds to programs and departments to fund the activities they should be funding rather than having to come to Senate,” Lyons said.

Various examples of this include allocating over $80,000 for two medical service trips this semester and conferences for specific academic departments.

When asked if the decrease of funds would make Senate more selective of what requests to approve or deny, Vice President Lyons said he predicts the relationship between Senate and the student body and the request system will change.

“I would say it will make them engage with their constituents in a stronger way so that they are representing the interest of students in their decisions. Also, there will need to be some changes in the process of gathering requests and making allocations, so that system should be more straight forward,” he said.

To sum up his thoughts on the matter, Vice President Lyons said he thought the new fee will better demonstrate the school’s Benedictine values and experiences.

“This fee is really a way for students to invest their resources into the College in ways consistent with our values of Stewardship and Community. It will help enhance the curricular and co-curricular experiences for all students,” Lyons said.