YCC votes to add activities fee to tuition

In a unanimous vote Sunday, the Yale College Council passed a proposal to add $30 to tuition and give the money to the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, the YCC and club sports programs.

UOFC chairman Matthew Harsha-Strong ’06 said if the administration accepts the proposal, the “supplement” would raise about $158,000. He said the Committee on Undergraduate Organizations (CUO), a University standing committee on which he sits, will review the proposal Wednesday and recommend a course of action to the dean of Yale College, who will make the final decision.

All other Ivy League universities have such an activities fee, Harsha-Strong said. He said $30 would be the lowest fee of any Ivy. The proposal said 40 percent of the fee would go to the UOFC to fund undergraduate organizations, 35 percent would go toward the YCC’s budget and 25 percent would be allocated to club sports.

Harsha-Strong said the extra funding would add to funds already received from the administration, like the annual $50,000 allotment from the president’s office for Spring Fling. He said it would not be a substitute.

“We’re proposing this to benefit student life, not to benefit the administration,” he said.

CUO chairwoman and Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said she does not know if the CUO will recommend the mandatory activities fee. The YCC’s endorsement of the fee may or may not influence the committee, she said.

No one knows exactly how much money gets allocated to undergraduate organizations at other schools, Trachtenberg said.

“Although Matthew — has done a very careful review of what other schools do, I would need to know exactly who they fund and what their guidelines are,” she said.

Yale used to have an activities fee, she said. It eventually was “folded into the term bill,” Trachtenberg said.

Better funding would allow the YCC to bring prominent bands to Spring Fling and host more than one comedian per year, Harsha-Strong said.

“Third Eye Blind [this year's Spring Fling band] is an awesome band in my opinion,” he said. “But some students aren’t happy with it.”

Students want bands such as Outkast or the Dave Matthews Band, Harsha-Strong said.

Howard Scott ’07 said he does not want to pay the $30.

“Oh no, I’m not paying $30 for [expletive deleted],” he said. “It’s already $40,000 to go to this school.”

But Li Cai ’07 said she does not mind paying a little extra.

“That should be fine, if we have a better Spring Fling band,” she said.

Though the YCC has been the subject of recent controversy — the organization has been accused of plagiarizing parts of the YaleStation Degrees dating service from a similar program at Wesleyan — Harsha-Strong said students should support the fee because of what it has done at other schools.

“Give us a chance,” Harsha-Strong said.

Harsha-Strong said he will also ask the CUO to recommend lifting the ban on UOFC funding for undergraduate publications, but he said the YCC did not vote on that issue.

Trachtenberg said the publication funding ban has been in place to protect freedom of expression. She said the ban prevents a “conflict of interest,” where the University could decide what University-funded publications can and cannot publish.

The current annual UOFC budget is $64,000, Harsha-Strong said, but student groups requested a total of over $173,000 in funding this year.

He said he hopes the fee will be in place for the 2004-2005 school year.

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