Undergraduates overwhelmingly backed a Yale College Council proposal to add an optional $50 student activities fee to tuition as voting ended late Thursday night with 78 percent of 2,379 students supporting the measure, YCC Vice President Chance Carlisle ’05 said.
The student support for the measure is likely to influence the administration as it decides in coming weeks whether to implement the fee into next year’s tuition, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said Thursday afternoon before the results of the referendum were announced. If approved by the administration, the fee would net about $215,000 for on-campus student activities and events, YCC Treasurer Andrew Schram ’06 said.
Voter turnout for the referendum — about 45 percent of undergraduates cast their votes over the course of three days on the YaleStation online portal — was the highest the YCC has seen for a vote or election in at least five years, Carlisle said. YCC President Andrew Cedar ’06 said he thinks the high turnout and support for the measure suggests an overwhelming mandate in support of the fee.
“I think it’s a pretty strong statement on the part of Yale College students that funding for student activities needs to increase,” Cedar said.
Salovey said student opinion is “critically important” in guiding the administration’s decision whether to adopt the fee proposal.
“If a majority of students are in favor of it, you can be sure that the administration will be talking about it soon,” Salovey said.
Under the YCC’s tentative proposal, about 50 percent, or $107,500, of the expected revenues from the fee would be allocated to the YCC for campus-wide events like Spring Fling; about 20 percent, or $43,000, would go to club sports teams; about 15 percent, or $32,250, would go to the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee to distribute to student clubs; and about 15 percent, or $32,250, would fund a new intercollegiate initiative whereby students from different colleges could collectively organize campus events and parties.
But Cedar and Carlisle both said that many details of the structure and implementation plan of the fee still need to be worked out. The administration needs to analyze whether the inclusion of a student activities fee that places the funding burden squarely on the students is the best way to obtain the additional money needed for activities and organizations, Cedar said.
“The ultimate goal here is to fund student activities at the level we’d all like it to be at,” Cedar said. “The goal now is to pursue this as one avenue of closing that gap.”
Naoko Kozuki ’06, the captain of the Yale Kendo Team, said her club sport receives about $200 per year — only enough to pay for a single meal for each of the club’s 15 members during one tournament. Her three years of participating in the club have cost Kozuki an estimated $600. She said she fears the high cost of playing a club sport inhibits many students from joining teams.
Kozuki e-mailed her friends and acquaintances earlier this week urging them to vote in favor of the fee. Still, she said she is worried that the fee will not be as effective as the YCC claims.
“What I’m worried about is whether this money is going to come around to us,” Kozuki said. “If it does, it would be absolutely amazing for everyone in club sports.”
Al Jiwa ’06, on the other hand, has been asking students to vote against the fee because he believes the YCC should use the funds it already has more efficiently before receiving additional money. He said he is disappointed by the results of the referendum.
“It’s not a question of not having the money,” Jiwa said. “It’s a question of poor planning.”
Jiwa said that making students pay more for activities that they actually participate in would be a better way to make up for any funding deficits. For example, he said he would rather see the YCC charge an admission fee for events such as Spring Fling.
“If people pay for Spring Fling, that makes the YCC responsive to getting an act that everyone wants,” Jiwa said.
Yale President Richard Levin and Salovey will discuss the results today or Monday and YCC members will soon meet with administration officials to discuss their proposal, Carlisle said. Cedar said it is important for discussions to proceed quickly in order to implement the fee in this fall’s tuition, which will be determined during a meeting of the Yale Corporation in February.