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FEE RAISE NO LONGER FOR SPRING AFTER UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

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The student activity fee cannot be adjusted for next semester, Student Association senate leaders learned after talks with university officials throughout the past week.

Hopes to lift funding worries early next year with a $10 fee boost faded after university administration deemed spring implementation to be illegitimate under state education law and SUNY policy. As a result, the fee will now jump to $110 come fall.

Jarrett Altilio, senate chair and fee sponsor, said he received mixed signals about the legality of spring implementation with lacking administrative outreach. Prior to the vote, input on the fee decision outside of SA was mostly given by members of Student Involvement.

“Now that’s it’s happened once, I think moving forward we will have a better understanding of having more communication between us and the administration when it comes to implementing things that they have a part in,” he said.

After receiving a copy of the bill, Michael Christakis, vice president of Student Affairs, addressed concerns with senate leadership. It wasn’t until a Wednesday meeting between Christakis and the SA executive board that the SA backed out of spring implementation.

“We never encountered this before so it did take a little bit of getting our awareness after [SA] all voted [last] Wednesday,” Christakis said. “But I think we acted swiftly.”

Policy concerns also were raised within, and even beyond the senate from other SUNY student governments.

Julia Alford, senator-at-large, previously criticized the bill for violating SUNY policy, along with lacking transparency in advance. Under SUNY guidelines, the student activity fee must coincide with an institution’s fiscal cycle.

Among criticism that the bill lacked transparency and neglected institutional guidelines, the Albany Student Press received a report that multiple SA members had considered challenging the legislation as it stood in the SA supreme court.

Despite the backlash, a senate majority supported the bill. Overall, the bill passed 26-13-4.

Austin Ostro, senate vice chair, championed the legislation. He hoped that a mid-academic year increase would boost SA programming and secure additional student group funding.

What’s more, by passing the increase for the spring semester, he hoped demonstrating effective use of additional revenue would turn students in favor of keeping the fee mandatory. This, along with a student activity fee task force, were put into place to move students away from deciding to waive the fee come March.

“It’s unfortunate that’s not going happen,” Ostro said about the bill no longer going into effect next semester.

While SA will not receive the $130,000 expected from spring implementation — if enrollment remains high coming into the spring semester — SA will have an increase in revenue, Student Affairs reported.

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Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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