UNA SGA vote would eliminate summer fee, pending trustees’ approval

Budget Oversight Committee Chairman Skyler Mansell (left) discusses upcoming legislation with Senate Vice President Nick Lang before the start of Senate’s April 2 meeting. Senators voted in favor of a resolution from Mansell’s committee to remove the summer Student Activity Fee, as long as a $6 increase occurs during the fall and spring semesters.

Students could see changes to their semester bills as a result of a recent SGA Senate vote to adjust the Student Activity Fee, pending administrative approval.

Resolution 15-02 calls for removal of the $50 fee from summer tuition charges beginning 2016, accompanied by a $6 increase during all proceeding fall and spring semesters.

Senate Budget Oversight Committee Chairman Skyler Mansell said the university’s shared governance Fee Structure Committee recommended removing the summer fee because some students are not getting the biggest bang for their buck.

“We decided that instead of students paying $50 in fall, summer and spring, we can charge them $56 in the fall and spring, and students that come for summer won’t have to pay this fee at all,” said senator Haleigh Scott. “They feel like there’s not as many events and things like that on campus, so they feel like its not as applicable to them. So we’re just pulling it from the other two semesters.”

Senate approved a $23 incremental increase to the Student Activity Fee during the spring 2014 semester. The board of trustees also approved the resolution June 9 that year, enacting an increase of $8 (fall 2014) and $5 during the three subsequent spring and fall semesters.

The fee, currently $40, provides money for UPC to host events on campus, such as monthly movie nights and the annual spring concert. It also funds the Budget Oversight Committee’s Student Allocations Funding, which provides travel and event funding to registered student organizations.

“What we’re proposing is an extension of the original resolution so we’re not facing the downfall that we would have from not having that summer fee,” Mansell said.

While the $6 increase amount is less than the $50 fee removal, overall revenue is projected to remain the same because the number of students who would pay the fee during the summer averages 1,200, while 5,500 pay in the fall and spring semesters, respectively.

Officials said the increase will generate about $60,000 from a larger number of students during fall and spring, rather than a smaller number of students during the summer.

“The student input we received is basically the same as what the university has been receiving: fees are too high during the summer, and that’s what’s keeping them from going in the summer,” Mansell said.

Senate Vice President-elect Nicole Gallups said some students take classes at UNA during the summer but never reap the benefits of the Student Activity Fee. Because the money’s primary use during summer is for SOAR, only freshmen who attend orientation benefit, and they do not pay the fee, Gallups said.

Mansell said he hopes dropping the fee will influence students to take more classes during the summer at UNA.

“Summer tuition is expensive enough as it is,” said senior Amanda Oliger. “If I was just coming to take summer classes, I wouldn’t want to pay the fee.”

Oliger said while the small difference $50 makes on a tuition bill might not encourage higher enrollment in summer classes, it will make the cost more affordable for students.

The resolution will be sent to President Ken Kitts, the university presidents, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Tammy Jacques and Student Engagement Director Tyler Thompson immediately for review. Trustees are expected to vote on the legislation during their next quarterly meeting in June.

Jacques said the board highly values student input when voting on such topics.

“Although the decision is ultimately up to the board, they do take the opinion of the students into high consideration,” she said. “This is SGA’s official stance on the topic.”