This Time, Please Pass the Student Activity Fee Increase

A single vote kept a $20 student activity fee raise from passing nearly one year ago. The fee, which is tacked onto every undergraduate’s tuition bill, sustains a fund that supports a range of activities, organizations, and infrastructure that directly and indirectly enriches student life at USF.

That missed opportunity will return this April 16-19, when undergraduates will again vote whether or not the activity fee—which remains stubbornly at $82, and which last year could have been increased to $102—gets raised. This time, the proposal includes only a $15 increase, to $97. And this year, it needs to pass.

For the past seven years, that pool of SAF cash has stagnated. The growing number of student organizations and accounts who depend on the student activity fee coupled with the rising costs of products, services, and stipend and salary requirements have worsened the already heavy strain on the finite pool. At this point, the only way to make more money available is to increase the number of undergraduates at USF, and that possibility is ruled out because USF and the City have agreed to cap enrollment to its present level.

As the Foghorn wrote a year ago when we advocated the $20 raise, the 21 issues that are printed each year is made possible by the fee, and covers editors’ stipends, pays for software upgrades, and offsets equipment purchases, among other things. So of course, the Foghorn has a vested interest in the outcome of the referendum. We won’t hide that.

But beyond us, the pool of money directly maintains university-supported organizations called funded accounts. The ASUSF Voices troupe, College Players, the Culturally Focused Club Council, the GO Team, USFTV, the Greek Council, ASUSF Senate, the Electoral Governing Board, the Graphics Center, and Los Locos draw the entirety of their funding from the pool of undergraduate activity fees. By each account’s constitution, they can operate only on this money, and cannot fundraise. What’s more, other clubs can access those same funds for events and travel expenses through the Senate-led and student-run Superfund Committee, which reviews clubs’ proposals on an ongoing basis through the academic year.

As it stands, the demand on that $450,000 source of revenue easily outstrips what is available. $15 more per person will far from meet every club and funded account’s requested budgets and allocations, but it’s a promising and urgently needed start.

Anyone who did or plans to: see a play on campus, attend a Fall Fest concert, watch a USFTV production, attend a Senate meeting, watch a film arranged by CAB, join a social Greek organization on campus, become part of a culturally-focused club, vote in a student election, lead a new student orientation, or, naturally, read an edition of the Foghorn—that should cover nearly everybody—owes a vote toward that $15 increase.

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