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Fate of activity fee up for student vote this week

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Students will vote this week on the fate of the mandatory activity fee, a decision which could have potentially drastic effects on the budget of the Student Association.

At the spring elections for SA from March 6 to March 8, the student body will vote on whether to keep the full-time student fee mandatory or voluntary.

    The fee is currently mandatory for all students who are taking more than 6 credits with the college; it is $100 for students considered full time (taking 12 or more credits), $75 for students taking between nine and 11 credits, and $50 for students taking between six and eight credits.

This vote has been recurring since 2006, when it was made a SUNY policy that students would vote every other year on the status of the activity fee.

SA manages an approximately $2.7 million budget, with which they fund for student groups, events and activities.

SA also has an internal budget, which funds things like audits, office supplies, lawyers, and stipends for executive employees like president and vice president, as well as their own events. The internal budget is approximately 1.8 million dollars, while the external budget that funds student groups is around $930,000.

The programming events handled by SA may also be affected, including Parkfest.

SA senator-at-large Ivan Daquial argued that the financial burden of events put on through SA funded groups and by the SA itself would be placed on the students who want to enjoy them, and many of those kids would not be able to afford these groups without the help of the SA.

In recent years, SA has come under fire for losing track of funds and spending them on controversial executive conferences and SA T-shirts. Both candidates for president this year have campaigned with promises of increased transparency.

It’s hard to say how much of the SA’s $2.7 million budget would be lost due to the switch from mandatory to voluntary, as it’s impossible to predict just how many students would opt out of paying.

For the roughly 120 groups funded by SA, a voluntary vote may mean less access to club funds.

The ASP spoke to members of the Albany State University Black Alliance Aatiya Caine and Blessing Katawole, whose main concern was the organization’s annual fashion show.

In the future, the event, which takes nearly $20,000 to produce, may have to be cancelled if funding from SA was reduced.

SA has the phrase “Remember to vote Yes on the activity fee” pasted on their website, but some students still have concerns about the fee remaining mandatory.

Albert Chang, a freshman commuter at UAlbany, plans to vote to make the fee optional, as he is not “spending all my time on campus or using any of these SA resources.” He believes he should at least have a choice on whether or not to pay the fee.

    The election will take place from Wednesday, March 6 to Friday, March 8, and will include the vote for the activity fee. Voting will take place through MyUAlbany, with instructions on how to vote on the SA section of the University website.

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Nate Depaul is a staff reporter in the news section of the Albany Student Press.

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