Students want more publicity about fee

An 80 percent participation rate in the Student Activities Fee this year — up from 63 percent in 2005 — has given the Yale Student Activities Committee enough resources to fund a series of new schoolwide events this fall. But while many Yalies said they were glad to contribute money in support of more campus events, some students said they think YSAC should do a better job of publicizing students’ option to decline to pay the $50 fee.

The new events planned for this semester include a chicken wing-eating contest at the Yale-Princeton football tailgate and a “Mr. Yale” pep rally scheduled for the Thursday night before the Harvard-Yale game in November, YSAC chair Mike Lehmann ’08 said. YSAC has also been working with the Ezra Stiles College Student Activities Committee to put on biweekly movie nights, and will be renting out screens at the Criterion Cinemas for the premiere of the new Ali G movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” on Nov. 3, he said.

YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said he thinks the increased contributions to the Student Activities Fund reflect many students’ eagerness to see more activities like the ones planned last year.

“This is evidence that students are excited to see a large Student Activities Fund,” he said. “I think our success with events like Gunther has helped us in raising a larger amount of money for more activities this year.”

Half the money raised by the fee — which brought in $209,950 this year — is allocated to YSAC, and the rest will be distributed among the Club Sports Advisory Board, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee and the Committee for Campus-wide Activities, YCC President Emery Choi ’08 said.

Instructions for opting out of the fee online were included in a letter that the Yale College Dean’s office sent to students over the summer, Choi said.

“It’s pretty easy to get out of the fee,” he said. “Everybody has to go onto that Web site to check their grades, anyway.”

But some students said they think the YCC was not clear enough in explaining to students that they could choose not to pay the fee for this year. Sabrina Poon ’07, who chose not to pay the fee as a senior, said she would not have known about this option if it had not been publicized in 2005. She does not remember hearing anything about the possibility of not paying in 2006, she said.

A number of freshmen said they were unaware of either the fee or the option to decline to pay it.

“I kind of wish they would have told us about it, but I wouldn’t have had any problem paying the fee if they had,” Jon Gelber ’10 said. “I think that I’m going to go to a lot of the events, and I’d feel bad not contributing.”

YSAC representatives said students’ increased participation in the Student Activities Fee inspired them to plan a greater diversity of events for this fall.

Lehmann said the purpose of the Mr. Yale rally is to get students energized about The Game before they travel to Cambridge the next day.

“We thought it’d be pretty neat to have a pep rally event to pump everyone even more,” he said. “While we realize that this isn’t a large state school, there’s a huge rivalry between Harvard and Yale, so we can capitalize off of that.”

The rally — which will feature one student from each residential college — will involve a formal wear competition, a talent show, and a series of question-and-answer sessions, said Tom Hsieh ’08, the YSAC member in charge of organizing the event. Contestants will be asked humorous questions, such as describing their ideal date, as well as more serious questions about how they would use their title to improve the Yale community, he said.

Hsieh is a production and design editor for the News.

Lehmann said the wing-eating contest — which will be sponsored and paid for by S’Wings restaurant on Crown Street — will feature teams of five students competing to win money for charities of their choice.

Although the Fall Show was pushed back to February, Lehmann said he expects a large turnout for all the events. But some students expressed doubt about the wing contest or the pep rally’s ability to attract many Yalies.

Nick Abreu ’08, who said he declined a nomination to serve as Branford’s representative at Mr. Yale, said he will be “pleasantly surprised” if the event draws a large crowd. The pageant, he said, is more of a “high school thing,” and his expectations are low given the show’s last-minute planning.

Charles Drucker ’08 also expressed disappointment in the new schedule of events.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous,” he said. “The whole idea has been to bring back the Fall Show, and that hasn’t really happened. There’s no reason why these quality Yale students shouldn’t be able to plan something like this, especially since they have assured funding.”

Many students, however, supported YSAC’s expanded schedule of events regardless of whether they planned to attend.

Elizabeth Saunders ’10 said she appreciates the diversity of this fall’s YSAC offerings.

“I’m not really taking part in any of the other events so far,” she said. “But I think it’s nice to have different choices and to have a variety of things that you can do.”

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