To the Editor:
From the placards in the dining halls to the buzz in the campus media, students have been exposed to YCC’s pervasive student activities fee campaign. Signs at every corner scream “VOTE YES!” Little dissent has been raised. With all the active support, is there possibly a reason to vote no? Perhaps.
One point that YCC has used to argue for the student activities fee is that other Ivies have fees that make Yale’s look small. But Dartmouth’s, which YCC claims is an exorbitant $540, is actually just $62 a term. Where did YCC’s numbers come from? Meanwhile, YCC advertisements (a great use of money) hint that fees will lead to Harvard-like Spring Fling bands and the return of Fall Shows. Yet all I’ve heard from disgruntled students suggests that such events didn’t satisfy the Yale community even before money woes appeared. The “referendums” we have on bands disappear behind YCC’s iron curtain of secrecy and certainly don’t contribute to the idea of “school-run” events.
Many good organizations are sponsored through UOFC despite its perennial “shortfall,” and for that I am grateful. But why, then, is the UOFC Web site ablaze with ads about a $5,000 inter-organizational funding competition? I find it unlikely that UOFC checked under the couch one day and found $5,000; certainly, this money could go to one of the “48 organizations new to the UOFC” needing funding. YCC and UOFC are as transparent as a brick wall, and perhaps their newfound poverty is what it will take to remind them of fiscal responsibility.
Students on financial aid will have their fees paid, yet there is no discussion of the subsequent financial burden — which will surely exceed $100,000 — on financial aid. Will this cut other financial aid? The question of who will bear this weight is unanswered. One of the central arguments YCC makes is that you can opt out of the fee. If everyone is opting out, where is the money coming from? What if the expected 85 percent payment rate falls short? What if Yale’s administration, assuming that we can fend for ourselves, reduces its current funding?
All that said, I am for additional organizational support. In club sports, I’ve faced expenses for travel to tournaments and for equipment. In undergraduate organizations, I’ve seen the critical need for funding. Yet I am not for blindly throwing money at YCC to solve our problems. We should examine how wisely we’re using the money we’ve got now, and then decide how to augment it. This will require transparency, planning and real consultations with the student body, not ridiculous bylaws, flimsy pie-charts and vague referendums.
I will vote “no” on the activities fee, if for nothing else than to prove that I will not accept YCC’s force-fed answer. I fear that an overwhelmingly positive response to this measure will smother other glaring problems and give YCC a blank check to begin charging its waste onto student accounts. I believe that Yalies, even those in full support of the fee, should continue to question their YCC reps, college councils and Dean Salovey to ensure that we are not simply flinging our money away.
Michael C. Chen ’06
Jan. 25, 2005