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Candidates Raise Flags Over Dippikill

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Student Association presidential candidate Tiran Koren stirred controversy after questioning Camp Dippikill’s lack of wifi, one of the several flags raised over the wilderness retreat at Monday’s presidential forum.

“So, tell me how many students — how many 15,000 people would willingly drive an hour and a half to be in a cold area — because it’s mostly cold here — not have wifi and can’t Snapchat [sic] whatever they do there and pay for it while they’re still paying the student activity fee?”

Koren, who learned about Camp Dippikill two months ago, later specified that his remarks were based on student complaints, not his own views. Overall, he still pledges to look into wifi complaints among other Dippikill-related concerns if elected Friday.

“You got to see what the people want,” he told the Albany student Press on Wednesday. “They pay.”

Both opponents, Jerlisa Fontaine and Andalib Anwar, shot down Koren’s wifi remark at the forum.

“It’s very serene and we should not be changing that and putting wifi towers and stuff like that on it,” said Anwar in a rebuttal. “Because students who visit Dippikill actively … they don’t mind that there’s no connection.”

Earlier in the event, Anwar was the only candidate to directly answer Danielle Haft’s question: “From a financial perspective, is SA’s Dippikill a net plus or a net plus or negative for the organization?”

Dippikill has not been marketed “well enough,” Anwar maintained. “For the past several years, students don’t really know about it as much as they should.”

He vouched to improve the Dippikill line, a budget fund created last year by the board of finance for student group camp reservations.

While fewer student groups than expected have used Dippikill funds, overall occupancy rates have continued to climb. An exception, Fox Lair revenue has lagged, paralleled by some with the cabin’s smaller size and lack of roadway accessibility.

Both Anwar and Koren advocated lowering the price of Dippikill reservations. For undergraduate students, weekday cabin rentals range from $32 (Fox Lair, Rita’s Lounge, Twin Brooks) to $225 per night (White Pine, Farmhouse); the weekend package costs as high as $700. Price points have yet to be decided for Julie’s Lodge.

“The pricing is where it needs to be,” said Dale Henderson, director of Dippikill Outreach and Environmental Sustainability, in a statement. “If we cut it down, we won’t make any profits.”

Specifically, Anwar believes that lower line spending could be used to reduce rental prices.

Dippikill is expected to spend less next year with Julie’s Lodge nearing completion. From 2013 to 2016, the Dippikill budget grew by over $20,000 to meet development costs. Micheal Spellane, chair of the board of finance, declined to comment on current budget discussions over Dippikill.

Unlike Anwar, Fontaine, believes that the extra money from spending cuts should be reallocated to programming and student groups.

“It’s expensive for what it is, but that’s the price,” she said. “Everybody has sat down at the table and broke it down to make it as affordable as it can be. It’s just a matter of that being the price needed to run it properly.”

 

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