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Student senate considers resolution on raising student activities fee

| Thursday, September 14, 2023

Peter Breen | The Observer
Student body vice president Aidan Rezner leads a student senate meeting on Wednesday.

Notre Dame’s student senate debated raising the student activities fee and appointed eight at-large members to a committee on the constitution of the undergraduate student body during its weekly meeting Wednesday.

The senate also voted to suspend first-year class council elections for candidates who were running unopposed and filled three officer vacancies on sophomore class council.

Student government officials promoted upcoming campus events including the farmer’s market Thursday afternoon on Fieldhouse Mall and Howard Hall’s Totter for Water, which begins 7 p.m. on Thursday. The executive cabinet of student government will host students in its office on the first floor of LaFortune Student Center to chat over coffee from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday.

“We have a little bit of a busy agenda,” student body vice president Aidan Rezner said at the start of the assembly, which took place in the Mendoza College of Business.

The focus of the senate members by far was the resolution to increase the student activities fee, which has stood at $95 per year since 2012. The student activity fee, the student union endowment and “The Shirt” proceeds are the three main sources of funding to undergraduate student groups, according to the Student Activities Office.

Written by Rezner and student body president Daniel Jung, the resolution said the fee should be raised by $1 for the next academic year. Jung said the “Notre Dame administration” approached him, Rezner and student body chief of staff Collette Doyle at the beginning of this year about adjusting the fee.

According to the resolution, the $95 student activities fee is separately itemized on each student’s bill for both the fall and spring semesters, breaking down to a $47.50 charge each semester. The University administrators who spoke with student government said many parents and students were confused about the uneven numerical nature of the per-semester fee, according to Jung.

“It seems like the University is squeezing as much money as possible,” Jung said. “[The administrators] said we could raise the fee by $1. That keeps [the raise] minimal, and it keeps it to a round number on a per-semester basis.”

The resolution also addressed inflation. According to the resolution, SS2324-05, the proportional increases in cost of attending Notre Dame due to inflation “far outpace” any increase in the student activities fee. Jung said that a $1 increase in tuition per student would bring in an additional $8,000 to the student union.

“The student union, I’d say, is a little underfunded,” Jung said.

Ultimately, the members of the student senate decided against adopting the resolution. Thomas Kluck, a senator from Baumer Hall, said he was against raising the already high cost of Notre Dame tuition and pointed out that $8,000 divided between the University’s 500 clubs would only amount to $16.

“I know $1 is like nothing, but for me it sort of comes down to the principle,” Kluck said. “I don’t want to say that I voted to raise student fees. I think fees are already high enough … I think if the real objective here were to make [the fee] an even number, I think that could be accomplished with lowering it.”

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About Peter Breen

Peter Breen is an associate news editor for The Observer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Breen grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and is a senior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies.

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