Changes to the Student Activity fee have serious ramifications

There has been much talk surrounding the changes to the Student Activity Fee and Student Life has finally released limited information as to why upper administration has made these decisions.

The Student Activity Fee for the fall and spring semesters has been decreased from $245 to $200, while the Summer I and Summer II semesters’ fee has increased from $70 to $200. According to Student Life, this change has been made in a collective effort to create a fee structure that lines up with competing universities. Students will no longer be charged a myriad of many, seemingly insignificant fees. Instead, they will be charged a consistent general service fee through small fee aggregation.

SGA Treasurer Patrick MacLane believes that the large rollover figures have made the financial department uneasy. “Rollover is typically anywhere from $50,000 to $110,000 a semester, which finance views as unnecessary capital,” said MacLane. As a result, lowering the Student Activity Fee provides the Student Government Association with less capital.

These changes do impose significant ramifications on both Stevens students and recognized student organizations (RSOs). By decreasing the fall and spring semester fees and increasing the summer fees, the SGA loses $250,000 from its budget in the fall and spring and gains $85,000 from the summer, which results in a net loss of $165,000 per year.

“[The loss] was felt at this year’s budgeting meeting where we were forced to make serious cuts to our RSOs and line item expenses,” said MacLane. Tech Fest, allocated at nearly $65,000 this year was reduced by approximately 66% to just $22,500.

In addition, students who are on co-op will now be registered for a “co-op class.” As per the fee collection structure, any students registered in a “class” are charged the Student Activity Fee. Co-op and summer semester students will now be paying $600 in activity fees, while students who are not on co-op and don’t take summer courses will be paying $400 per year.

According to MacLane, students who were at Stevens in the fall and spring for only 8 semesters paid $490 In activity fees while students on co-op paid $560. With the new fee structure, regular semester students will see a decrease in student activity fees by $90 year while co-ops will see an increase in fees by $40 a year.

MacLane noted that the $200 summer semester activity fee isn’t being allocated for many events in the summer. “Although RSOs may request funding for events in the summer, the scale of activities during the summer is significantly lower than the programming that takes place during the fall and spring.” The fee is thus split between the fall and spring semester budgets, which is necessary for the RSOs to hold their functions throughout the year.

Speaking as a member of the Stevens undergraduate community, MacLane has some issues regarding the sudden changes to the financial structure. “I am personally disappointed with the lack of transparency that the Stevens administration has shown in developing these new fees.”

MacLane noted that the changes to the Student Activity Fee were made known to the SGA less than a month before the budget meeting, which left little room for the SGA to inform the heads of the RSOs. “I do not entirely understand the logic behind charging students such a large activity fee over the summer when there are very little students on campus and so few programming events,” said MacLane. “Had the administration approached the SGA regarding these changes, I am sure we could have made these concerns apparent to them. Rather, these changes were made without any input from elected student officials.”

For students who are interested in viewing the fees that changed, visit stevens.edu/sit/ssc/sfs/tuition-fees.