What Good’s a Student Fee Anyway?

If you care to examine your bill on the St. Mary’s Portal, you will see a line for a Mandatory Full Time Fee, $235 of which is your Student Fee. And if you’ve been paying attention to campus affairs recently, you may have heard a lot of hubbub about increasing that fee.

In a financially tense time, how can the SGA possibly think this is necessary? How far would an extra $25 go anyway? Well, as it turns out, miles.

For starters, many students may not realize just how comprehensive the Student Government Association’s budget is. We cover everything from The Point News, the club trainer, SafeRide, start-up money for the freshman class, Coffehouse, the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Loan Fund (GSMRF),  the Professional Fellowship program, the Nest, the microwaves in your dorm to the Hawk Radio,  World Carnival, the movies on the weekends, right down to the office supplies in the Club Room (for a truly exhaustive list, see SGA Treasurer Matt Smith). Not to mention we fund every student-initiated club on campus. Some of these we are constitutionally obligated to fund, while others, such as SafeRide and GSMRF, were built into the budget as a response to student demand. So pretty much if you are a sentient being at this school, you have benefited from SGA funding.

Over the past few years, members of Finance Board and the Treasurer have been able to identify a trend of more clubs wanting to do more things, with memberships expanding as rapidly as ambition. A classic example is Ski & Snowboard Club, whose every trip admits the maximum number with a waiting list of up to 43 students. Ski & Snowboard Club is also one of our inherently more expensive clubs (others include Sailing Club and Equestrian Club), so while current president Mike Young has done a commendable job of reducing costs, he, and by extension you, would undoubtedly benefit from a larger allocation.

The biggest strains on the SGA budget, however, manifest in the form of new additions.

This past year, both the Campus Farm and the Bike Shop have been forced to ask the SGA for money for their mere survival. The Bike Shop was originally housed under another budget and was then ousted, while the Campus Farm, being a relatively new project, had yet to establish a long-term funding model.

We voted yes on both because both appeared to be meritorious causes that directly benefit the student body. I’m sure many of you would agree.

However, the budget is unsustainable with current revenue levels. Our Special Carryover Fund is severely depleted, and it is safe to say that without a resounding “Yes” from the student body on the referendum, either the Bike Shop or the Campus Farm will be struck from the budget and forced to find money elsewhere.  Reflect on the difficulty of this task, considering they came to us as a last resort.

This is why we collectively implore you to come to the polls in a few weeks and determine once and for all what we as your governing body can give you.

Before instinctively checking the “No” box, we further implore you to consider the stakes.


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