University News

UCS votes to raise student activities fee

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Undergraduate Council of Students passed a proposal for a student activities fee increase from $214 to $290 per year at its general body meeting last night. The proposal, which would augment the Undergraduate Finance Board’s budget by approximately $465,000, will be presented today to Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, said Alexander Kaplan ’14, chair of the Student Activities committee and a Herald staff writer.

At the moment, the University can only afford to fund 70 percent of student groups’ financial needs, Kaplan said. Compared to peer institutions, student groups at Brown receive significantly less funding – for example, Tufts University’s equivalent of the Brown Concert Agency receives approximately $25,000 more each year, he added.

The increased student activities fee would merely allocate some funds from the potential tuition hike by the University Resources Committee toward student activities, said Undergraduate Finance Board Vice Chair Daniel Pipkin ’14.

Pipkin also emphasized the value of student opinion in University decisions. “Student opinion is extremely important,” he said. “It’s really dynamic, it’s really cool.”

Every year, as the number of student groups increases and inflation takes its toll, the UFB has a smaller pool of funds to provide to individual groups, he added. 

UCS also proposed a student activities consumer price index, which will account for these factors through an “almost systematic percent increase,” Pipkin said, adding that such a system “alleviates the need to go back and forth every year.”

The index means that UCS will only need to re-examine the fee every three years, Kaplan said.

The vote in favor of the resolution occurred after an executive session during which general body members deliberated on the issue. This session was invoked because UCS could not spend two weeks on the resolution, which is normally their protocol, said Treasurer Sam Gilman ’15. 

Parliamentarian and UCS-UFB liaison Gregory Chatzinoff ’15 also mentioned the six-year UFB spring budget report that will be released Friday. The report lists the funding trends for the top 30 UFB-funded Category 3 student groups from 2007 to 2012.

The Admissions and Student Services Committee is in the process of an overhaul of Morning Mail, said Abby Braiman ’15, the committee’s chair. The goal is to make the long list more legible and “less skimmable,” she said – events will be recategorized from the vague “events” and “announcements” to more specific headings, and clicking will take the reader directly to each sub-heading.

The Council is also trying to get University administrators to do a “Gangnam Style” video, said Kyra Mungia ’13, communications chair.

To close the meeting, President Anthony White ’13 mentioned the URC open forums Nov. 7 and 8, which will aim to stimulate discussion about the student activities fee proposal.

The next UCS meeting will feature two young alumni trustees of the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. 

Correction appended: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Undergraduate Resource Council as responsible for recommending tuition changes. In fact, it is the University Resources Committee. The Herald regrets the error.

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