Raised Student Activity Fees Find a Home, OSL Prepares Changes in Overall Fund Distribution
Two months into the Fall semester, the additional $200,000 for student activities, which arose as a result of the recent increase in the student activity fee, has been allocated to Dean of Students Dr. Chaim Nissel for distribution amongst the Office of Student Life (OSL) and the student councils. This framework represents a shift in the status quo for student activity fee funding, as in the past, all money raised by the student activity fee was distributed to the student councils in proportion to the size of their undergraduate student constituencies.
Despite the $50 per semester increase in the student activity fee, an additional charge outside of base tuition, the OSL and student councils have been operating as if they were budgeted last year's totals, pending the recent transfer of the additional money raised this year by the increased fee. In practice, this has yet to affect typical student programming, as the largest sums of money spent by these groups is directed towards large events like ChanukahFest and the Syms dinner, as well as new initiatives like “Swag Day” and evolving Shabbat programming which are all slated for later in the year.
In a phone call with The Commentator, Dean Nissel was enthused by the transfer of money, explaining that he plans to discuss the distribution of the money with the OSL and the student council presidents.
In the past, funds from the student activity fee were distributed exclusively to the student councils to fund student clubs and larger events and programs. However, as the increase in the student activity fee represents a 67% increase in overall funding, Dean Nissel is exploring varied distributions, which would divide the distribution of funds between two entities. Under this new system, some additional funds would go directly to the student councils, coming directly from the additional $200,000 raised this year, while the remaining funds would be directed to various departmental Student Life funds which are used to supplement funding for large events and programs when student councils request additional funds. In the past, the Student Life funds were filled with university funds or outside donations.
Although each council is given its own budget, large programs and events typically involve coordination and cooperation between councils and the OSL, which involves cost-sharing as well. In this regard, Dean Nissel felt confident the additional money from the raised student activity fee would be spent on programming that would benefit the largest amounts of students. He stressed that this money would not be spent on programs like student missions, which he believes are “important,” but limited, as they each typically involve small groups of between between 10 and 20 students. Rather, Nissel said “The student activity fees will be utilized to enhance the student experience by supporting larger scale programing for the majority of students to benefit from and enjoy.”