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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Re: Romano Urges for Lowering of Student Activity Fee

    To the Editor:

    I would like to respond to the historic op-ed piece written by Senator J. Robert Romano in the October 12th issue of The Statesman. Romano calls on students to approve a decrease in the Student Activity Fee. I call it ‘historic’ because it’s probably the first time in recorded history that a college student has complained about having too much money on his hands.

    Mr. Romano claims the fee decrease is appropriate because ‘USG really does not need this money.’ He writes that the current $48,000 surplus and rollovers from the past few semesters render the current fee of $188.50 too high. He further asserts that this will help fulfill the Reform Party’s campaign promise to ‘restore fiscal responsibility.’

    There are three problems with his position. First, as he himself notes, this fee reduction will ‘save’ students an extra $3.50 every year. If the aim is to save students real money, fight for tuition cuts, an increase in TAP funding, and meaningful Pell Grants. To tout fourteen quarters per student as a substantial savings is pretty ridiculous. It is not significant in the least, and should not be construed as such.

    Second, it is unfortunate that this senator, and presumably several others in the body, views thousands of surplus dollars as a problem rather than an opportunity. Stony Brook has almost 15,000 undergrads- is there really no way for these extra funds to be put to good use? Really? I would find it quite hard to believe that clubs and organizations wouldn’t be lining up at the door for a piece of the extra pie to enhance their own programming needs.

    Or think creatively, on a school-wide basis. How about earmarking every surplus dollar for a Weekend Activities Trust Fund, where 100 percent of any surplus goes exclusively to fund programming on Saturdays and Sundays? I would think the vast majority of Stony Brook students would prefer to have great events and fun things to do on the weekends rather than keep some spare change.

    Third, I am disheartened by this Senate’s misplaced priorities. I read that the Senate recently passed the Payroll Adjustment Act, which granted stipend increases to several members of multiple branches of this student government. Speaking as a former two-term (unpaid) senator, I always argued/voted against any increase in student government stipends, since the debate and votes took time and money away from our central task: putting every dollar towards the needs and desires of the students we represented.

    It is an abdication of responsibility for Senate members to line their own government’s pockets, especially when it’s at the expense of time and effort on behalf of students who could really use their support. In fact, it’s exactly what you SHOULDN’T do when the goal is to restore fiscal responsibility.

    My message to students is three-fold: first, log on to SOLAR and vote down the initiative to reduce the student Activity Fee. Then, head to the next senate meeting and see to it that this extra money is put to good use for YOUR benefit.

    Finally, when the meeting ends, demand that Mr. Romano and his colleagues buy you a beer. After all, it will only cost around $3.50, and you know they have the cash.

    -Adam Zimmerman

    Former USG Senator (and former Statesman editor) Class of 2004

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