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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Vote on SOLAR to Reduce the Student Activity Fee!

    The upcoming Fall 2006 Undergraduate Student Government (USG) election and referenda, to be held on SOLAR October 23rd through October 27th. These will shape up to be some of the most important decisions you will make at the polls as students at Stony Brook University.

    There are constitutional amendments on the ballot, which will at last, bring the USG into compliance with Federal and State law and court decisions. Not only are there competitive races for open seats in the USG Senate and for the position of Freshman Class Representative, but there is also a referendum on the ballot to reduce the Student Activity Fee $3.50 per student per year. This may seem like a modest cut to the current $188.50 that you as students are presently paying per year, but in truth it was hard enough to get the votes in the Senate to get this proposal on the ballot. With a vote of 11 in favor, 4 opposed, and 1 abstention, the Senate achieved the two-thirds majority necessary for this question to be placed on the ballot. Just to give you an idea how close this vote really was, if only 10 had voted in favor, and 6 had been opposed, it would not have been placed on the ballot. In the very least, you the students will have an opportunity to vote for the first time ever in Stony Brook’s long history to reduce the Student Activity Fee.

    The truth is that the USG really does not need this money, and we have no reason to keep taking the full $188.50 from you every year. In 2004, over two-thirds of the 2,388 students who voted on the question to increase the Fee $20.00 per year in the election voted against it. And the USG, desperate to balance the budget, went ahead and overturned the referendum anyway and raised the Fee. The least we can do now is present you with an opportunity to decrease the Fee via referendum, because as you shall see, we do not even need the money. In the 2004-05 fiscal year, the budget was about $2.47 million, and there was a rollover of unspent funds of about $125,000, or about 5% of the overall budget. In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the budget was about $2.68 million, and there was another rollover of approximately $291,000, or nearly 11% of the overall budget. These rollovers actually represent the USG allocating too much money. We’re allocating so much money we cannot even spend it all!

    In addition, there has been a recent increase in the undergraduate student population attending Stony Brook, and as such there are even more additional funds that have been added to our coffers: about $48,000 just for the Fall semester. And if history is any indication, we will not even spend it. This modest fee reduction of $3.50 per year is very lenient and more than reasonable considering the fiscal mismanagement which has in the past resulted in these budget rollovers of unspent money. We should at last hold the USG to the same standards that we as Senators hold clubs and organizations to when we allocate the budget in the first place. It must be noted that student clubs, organizations, and services will not be affected negatively by this fee reduction. The $48,000 surplus is already in the bank, and this reduction would not take effect until the spring semester, and would in fact eliminate just about $48,000 from the budget that we were not even expecting to have. In addition, we have every reason to believe that there will be another surplus from projected revenue this spring if the Fee is not reduced. It is time the student body held us accountable for a change.

    When I ran for Senate this past spring on the USG Reform Party ticket, I promised to deliver constitutional reform, budget reform, and to restore fiscal responsibility in allocating the Student Activity Fee. I have already delivered on these first two promises, by placing necessary constitutional amendments upon the ballot and by successfully adopting the new Financial Bylaws at the Senate. In order to restore fiscal responsibility to the USG, however, you as the students must act to vote on SOLAR October 23rd through the 27th to reduce the Student Activity Fee.

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