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Activities fee increase will soon face Poorman

Mary Kate Malone | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Members of the Campus Life Council (CLC) approved the proposed $15 student activities fee increase Monday with little of the controversy that stalled the Student Senate debate, moving the resolution one step closer to final University approval.

Student body president Dave Baron, who crafted the resolution with members of the Senate Academic Affairs committee, brought the proposal to the CLC after senators approved the resolution with a 22-5 majority vote on Oct. 12.

The proposal, which CLC passed in a 12-1 vote with one abstention, calls for the student activities fee to be raised from $80 to $95 for the next academic year. Under the resolution’s provisions, $10 from the increase would help fund the College Readership Program, which provides major newspapers – last year’s pilot program selection included USA Today, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune – to students for free.

The remaining $5 would be allocated to various Student Union clubs and organizations.

Academic Affairs committee chair Chris Harris cited inflation statistics to help justify the increase, the first one since 2002. He said Student Union clubs and organizations have lost a total of $8 in purchasing power over the last four years due to the decreasing value of the dollar.

He also said the student activities fee has not kept pace with the University’s yearly tuition increases.

Harris admitted that the fee increase, though substantial, would not meet the demand demonstrated during the College Readership Program’s four-week pilot program last spring.

“We found 2,000 papers to be the equilibrium amount for the demand that was demonstrated,” Harris said. “Under our proposal, the $81,000 generated would get us 1,600 papers per day.”

While this would be “a slight shortfall,” Harris said student government could combat the problem by implementing recycling programs for the papers and by placing the papers only in the dining halls.

Student Union Board manager Jimmy Flaherty questioned whether every student on campus would have access to the newspapers.

“This seems like a lot like room and board fees where it is built in and everyone pays,” Flaherty said. “All 8,000 students will have to pay it, but less than 2,000 students will see a return on that?”

Baron cautioned that the demand estimate might have been inaccurate.

“The number is inflated,” Baron said. “It’s best for us to be conservative and then change our numbers after the first year.”

Baron’s reassurances did not alleviate Flaherty’s doubts, but he was the sole member to vote against the resolution.

A recommendation will be sent to Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman in the new few weeks, Baron said. If approved by Poorman, the proposal will be submitted for review to the University budgeting group.

In other CLC news:

u Social concerns task force co-chair Liz Kozlow said her committee had narrowed its focus to two main issues.

“We are working on two projects,” Kozlow said. “The first one is dance themes. We felt that dance themes sometimes become disrespectful. We are going through the hall dance committee manual. We’re also working with Campus Ministry to raise awareness about non-Catholic services in the area.”

u Campus grounds and structures chair James Leito said his group has been balancing a variety of projects with help from various groups within the Student Union.

“We’ve got a bunch of little things going on,” Leito said. “Just about everything we’ve been working on, there is another group on campus that is interested in the same issues.”

u Student voice and input task force chair David Thaxton said his committee’s research was drawing to a close.

“We have spent a lot of time talking about individual research on student involvement in areas of the University,” Thaxton said. “We have narrowed down the list of which areas we will look into in more depth so we can focus on those things that are of more interest.”

u Baron told members that the newly created task force on hall taxes remedied the situation of rectors being pressured to donate hall funds to charities in the last few weeks.

The committee was created at the Council’s last meeting after discussion heated up over the distribution of hall funds within each dorm.

“I’m going to write a memo to all leaders within the Student Union explaining that in asking for money, we are not trying to stiff arm people to coerce them to give money,” Baron said. “I think the task force has done its job, and we don’t need it any further.”

u Off-campus senator Blake Jackson told members he received positive feedback after the Senate Minority Affairs committee presented its proposal for a diversity course requirement to the Board of Trustees committee on social values and responsibilities on Oct. 13.

“They loved it. They thought it was a great idea and said they’d been pulling for this for a number of years,” Jackson said. “They expressed some of their concerns, and we responded with vigor.”

The proposal would implement a diversity course requirement for all Notre Dame students.

u Hall Presidents Council co-chair Dan Zenker updated members on the pep rally procedure for admitting students into the Joyce Center. After meeting with Joyce Center officials, Zenker said all doors will now be open beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Gate 11 for students in non-host dorms. The doors will stay open until after 6 p.m., Zenker said.