Students may have to reach into their pockets for an extra dollar if an LSA Student Government initiative passes in this week’s election.
Appearing on the Michigan Student Assembly election ballot today and tomorrow, LSA-SG is proposing an increase from $1.50 to $2.50 in student dues paid per semester to various colleges at the University. LSA-SG officials estimate the $1 increase per student will result in an additional $18,000 for each school’s budget.
LSA-SG President Steven Benson, who spearheaded the initiative, said 85 percent of LSA-SG’s budget goes directly to student groups and event planning. The other 15 percent is reserved for internal committee use and discretionary spending.
The amount that University students pay to their respective colleges hasn’t been increased since 1998, when the amount went from $1 to $1.50. MSA has implemented three fee increases since that time.
LSA-SG Vice President Carly Goldberg said the student government researched the effects of the potential fee increase, including its impact on student governments at the University. LSA-SG talked with other colleges and school student governments, Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, and the University’s Dean of Students Laura Blake-Jones, who all agreed the fee increase would have a positive effect on each student government, Goldberg said.
LSA-SG’s research shows that $1.50 in 1998 amounts to $1.98 in today due to inflation — something Goldberg and Benson are using as a central argument for their proposed initiative.
A similar initiative on the winter 2010 ballot, adding 50 cents to students’ tuition to fund student organizations, passed at the time. But the initiative wasn’t taken to the University provost or Board of Regents, which approves the fiscal budget every June. According to Goldberg, the proposal was intended merely to garner student feedback on the concept.
She said students and University administrators have been receptive to the proposal, adding that LSA-SG holds “Lunch with the Representatives” meetings in an effort to connect to their student constituency and receive feedback.
Benson stressed the importance of student voter participation in the election. He said students often express interest in initiatives for school planning, but few actively participate in the voting and election process. He added that he is confident if the same students who approved last year’s 50-cent increase turn out to vote in this election, the measure will pass.
Because of its possible impact on all University colleges, Benson said it’s important for students to vote in the election.
“It is imperative that students understand that this directly affects them, and not only vote, but encourage others around them to vote,” Benson said. “This initiative and others on the ballot have a direct impact on all students.”
Goldberg also said if the ballot initiative is approved by the majority of voters this week, she is confident it will pass University Provost Philip Hanlon’s approval process and make it into the budget at the regent’s meeting in June.
Several students, including LSA freshman Erin Huffnagel and LSA senior Matt LaChance, said they support the initiative because the college-specific governments do a lot for their schools.
“Everyone has a dollar,” LaChance said. “To say this isn’t worth it is just wrong. They do great things and should definitely have my money.”