Sunday, April 11, 2021

SA held a special meeting on Mandatory Fee

by Adeeb Chowdhury

The SA held a special meeting March 11 to vote on a re-introduced bill to set the 2021-22 SA fee to $95, after the same bill had failed to pass earlier in the month.

The SA mandatory fee was $105 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was reduced to $55 for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. This was done to provide relief to students struggling financially due to pandemic complications, as well as adjust to the dramatic decrease in activity among clubs and organizations. However, more on-campus activity is expected for the next school year as pandemic restrictions begin relaxing. For this reason, SA Treasurer Saugat Gautam had introduced a bill in March that would set the 2021-22 fee to $95.

However, the bill failed to pass, receiving only four supporting votes. Senators voiced concerns that the higher fee may not be what the Plattsburgh community needs presently, pointing to the expected reluctance among students to pay more than they currently are, as well as the fact that more activity is not necessarily guaranteed next semester.

After the previous meeting, Gautam revised his approach and the wording of his bill.

After the previous meeting, Gautam revised his approach and the wording of his bill. He aimed to better convince his fellow senators that a $95 fee was vital if the SA plans to function properly next semester. He pointed out during the recent meeting that numerous essential services on campus, such as the Shuttle, Feinberg Library, clubs and organizations rely on SA funding. If the SA budget did not accommodate these services, they would cease to exist.

“We cannot allow that to happen,” Gautam said. “Everyone uses this. Everyone needs this.”

During the previous meeting, a number of senators expressed concerns that a higher SA fee was unnecessary at the time and may be further detrimental to students’ finances. However, the more recent meeting saw several senators chiming in and echoing Gautam’s reminder that a $95 fee will be essential if the SA to fulfill its responsibilities during the next school year.

“The consequences if we don’t pass this bill are very extreme,” Senator Carter Mosher said. “And it’s not asking for much, either—it’s just 40 extra dollars. And considering the duties the SA has, that’s pretty small.”

President Rudaba Ahmed, too, reminded the SA of the fact that their duties as an organization will very likely expand the following year.

“Campus will be much more open next semester, and there will be a lot more activity everywhere,” Ahmed said. “We need to meet higher costs once that happens, since we’re the ones supporting clubs and organizations.”

Ahmed also assured the SA that if anyone had concerns or questions they would like to share privately or after the meeting, they are welcome to approach her.

Once voting commenced, it became clear that attitudes had shifted since last time. The bill passed with every present senator voting in favor.

“Last week, senators chose to view this proposal as an increase on the SA fee – when it was actually a decrease,” Gautam said. “I think this time we presented solid rationale showing how it’s a decrease and how this will help continue to make our campus active, vibrant and engaging.”

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