With the Student Government election ending today, there are two large items on the ballot to consider as a student, and that is the referendums increasing the Student Activities Fee as well as the Intercollegiate Athletics Fee.
If the Student Activities Fee referendum is passed, the fee would be increased by 4.46%, going from $8.97 per credit to $9.37 per credit. If the Athletics Fee referendum is passed, it would increase by 5.25% going from $4 per credit to $4.21 per credit.
Minnesota State System policy states that if the budget for any of these fees increases by more than 2%, it must go to a referendum to be voted on by the student population.
If either referendum does not pass, there has been a backup budget that would fall back below the 2% increase.
For the Student Activities Fee in particular, if the referendum does not pass, the backup budget has the fee simply dip further into the reserves account to cover the cost, with no changes to funding for programs.
Now, any rational student might look at this situation and ask the question, “If voting no to paying more money doesn’t actually change anything, why would I ever vote yes?”
While that is a rational thought, it is selfish and shortsighted.
There is simply no way that dipping into reserves indefinitely is a sustainable measure for keeping a balanced and healthy budget. The current budget, if passed, already dips heavily into the reserves, with an expectation that next year there will be a significant move of the Green Transportation Fee (which is campus bussing) is moved to its own fee.
This move is very complicated and requires agreement from the Minnesota State System office to make happen, which is not an immediate nor definite shift.
So why should students vote to pass the referendum? It is simple, the future.
This referendum is an investment in the programs offered here at MSU, both under Student Activities and in athletics.
Athletics cites the need to pay for rising transportation costs, also noting that the fee at MSU is among the lowest in the Minnesota State System.
Student Activities had an increase in order to account for increased staffing costs, including paying student leaders higher wages for their work on campus. The fee also, as of now, pays for the bus system on campus.
If we continue down the road of eating up reserves, there will come a time in the near future when students will see decreases in essential services such as bussing hours and routes, as well as decreases in programs for students, including student events and opportunities.
While it is easy to look at this fee increase with a selfish eye, it is imperative that students pass this referendum. We must understand that it isn’t just about our pockets, but it is also about the future pockets of students at MSU that we are voting for.