University News

Corp. approves activities fee hike

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 27, 2012


The University’s highest governing body approved a $36 increase in the student activities fee at its Feb. 11 meeting, raising the total fee to $214. In October, the Undergraduate Council of Students requested a $72 increase that would have raised the total fee to $250.

Mae Cadao ’13, the UCS student activities chair and former Herald business staffer, said the council appreciates the increase in the fee, the largest the Corporation has approved in the last 10 years. But she said she thinks the fee could have been raised more.

“The proposed raise would have covered at least 90 percent of what student groups need,” Cadao said.

President Ruth Simmons also decided to reallocate the costs of media services for Category III student groups to the University, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. Currently, the Undergraduate Finance Board, a subsidiary of UCS responsible for funding student groups, must use a $75,000 share of the student activities fund annually to fund media equipment use for Category III  groups, said Michael Perchonok ’12. Next year, the University will incorporate the cost of media services for student groups into the campus budget, allowing UFB to distribute more of the student activities fund directly to student groups, Schlissel said.

With the increase, Perchonok said UFB will have around $200,000 more to allocate to student groups next year, allowing the board to fund more requests.

“It will certainly be tangible,” said Sam Gilman ’15, the UCS communications chair. “Groups will realize that a little bit more of their requests will be funded to a higher level.”

Before the proposal was submitted to the Corporation, the University Resource Committee, chaired by Schlissel, reviewed the request and decided to recommend an increase of $36.

In considering the proposed raise, URC looked at how the student activities fee would be used to benefit student activities and how the University’s student activities fee compared to that of other schools, Schlissel said.  

“We thought there was a very good argument made that Brown doesn’t donate enough money so that student clubs can be more enjoyable, more vigorous in what they do,” Schlissel said.  

But he said URC thought the proposed $72 fee increase was too great and told the council to return the following year if they felt another increase in the fee would be necessary, he said.

“Over time, there’s a good possibility that their full request will be fulfilled, but that’s contingent on a variety of other factors,” said Ben Noble ’13, a student representative on URC and a former Herald staff writer.

The cost to student groups of employing a member of the Department of Public Safety or of the Department of Facilities Management at an event increased this year, Cadao said.

The DPS fees rose after DPS coverage expanded to the Jewelry District. Because this was a one-time cost increase, the council will probably not request a fee increase for another few years, Cao said.

“The tuition rise is unsustainable, and we are trying to do what we can to make sure that student activities don’t cause tuition to rise,” Gilman said.

To prevent a greater increase in the student activities fee, “we are going to put on a pretty big push to get (the student activities endowment) off the ground,” Gilman said. “It’s only fair to student groups to give them enough resources that they can really thrive and be as productive as they can be.”

The student activities endowment currently holds $1.8 million, though the council hopes to eventually raise the endowment to $17 million, Cadao said.

She said UCS will reach out to Brown alumni centers around the country to show alums “what student activities looks like and the types of things that the funding would go towards.”

She said she hopes the council can triple the endowment by the end of the year.

The UCS Student Activities Committee will also be “more stringent with the group categorization process, so the current groups would receive more funding versus promoting so many new groups that the raise in funds would be negligible,” Cadao said.

The council will be releasing a statement about the student activities endowment in the upcoming weeks, said Daniel Pipkin ’14, UCS-UFB liaison.

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