By Sage Kuhlman | February 25, 2021
The Student Activity fee, which funds clubs and activities on campus, will come up for a vote this semester and the outcome will determine if students must be required to pay the fee or pay it voluntarily.
As of right now every UAlbany student pays a mandatory $110 fee each semester to fund events, activities, and various special-interest, student-outreach, and sports clubs, such as Albany Outreach for Animals, the Pride Alliance, and Club Frisbee.
The fee is automatically included in UAlbany tuition. The money goes directly into the Student Association’s budget, which according to the SA website has accumulated $2.73 million for them to allocate.
The fee will come up for a vote during the SA’s spring general election from March 18 to March 25, which includes the elections of SA President, Vice President and Senate members through the MyInvolvement page on the university website.
“I am in favor of a mandatory student activity fee,” said Christopher Munsch, President of SCAM Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
“It is not a large sum of money on everyone's tuition but if everyone stopped paying it, I fear many clubs would be at risk of losing a large majority of their funding from the school,” he added.
Every two years both graduate and undergraduate programs get to vote on whether to make the Student Activity fee voluntary or not, according to the guidelines. The vote comes amid a time when about 50% of students are not on campus.
There are fewer in-person events this semester because of remote learning, but the Student Activity fee also funds programs like the Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service, Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, Student Legal Services, and Club Sports, which students can still participate in and make use of.
In addition, there were 88 various clubs and organizations, according to the SA website, that were funded last fiscal year by students whether they participated in any or not.
For Spring 2021, 157 undergraduate organizations and 17 graduate organizations are active and registered with the Office of Student Activities. Seven of those were newly approved to receive funding by the SA Appropriations Committee this month.
Despite a 2000 Supreme Court Case that ruled mandatory Student Activity fees to be constitutional, the UAlbany Student Association has left it up for students to decide. For each referendum since, students have voted to keep the vote mandatory.
Michael Jaromin, Executive Director of UAlbany Student Involvement, said in an email this week to the ASP that the student activity fee provides students with “the opportunity to have a
a greater sense of belonging and connection among students and with the campus. In addition, it allows for greater equity, access and inclusion particularly for students and activities that may have been excluded otherwise.”
“Without the mandatory fee, many groups and initiatives would be in peril,” he added.