Administrators are considering raising the optional student activities fee to compensate for cuts to the budget of the Yale College Council.
YCC members have asked the Yale College Dean’s Office to consider ways to increase funding for the YCC’s budget to cover gaps left after the President’s Office and the Dean’s Office reduced funding to the organization, YCC President Rich Tao ’10 said. In response, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said his office is considering raising the $50 student activities fee, which currently provides roughly two-thirds of the YCC’s budget.
The Dean’s Office will decide whether to raise the fee in time for the 2009-’10 academic year. Gentry said his office supports both raising the fee and making it mandatory, but he said he will not make a decision until the summer.
The Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, would have to approve any change that would make the fee mandatory, Gentry said. For this reason, the Dean’s Office is only considering raising the fee. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she had not yet considered the idea of raising the fee.
A higher fee would boost the YCC’s budget, which has declined in both nominal and real terms over the last three years. Since the fee’s implementation, the Dean’s Office has reduced its contribution to the YCC by $3,000 each year. This year, that contribution stood at $9,000.
The President’s Office notified the YCC in March that the office intended to reduce its contribution to the YCC to $40,000, from $50,000, for the 2009-’10 academic year, Tao said. And because the fee has not changed since 2005, Tao said inflation forces the YCC to do less with its budget every year.
Tao also said there is a “free-rider” problem: One-fourth of the student body opted not to pay the fee this year. “Those students are still attending our events,” Tao noted.
The chair of the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, Bryan Twarek ’10, who signed a letter sent with Tao to the Dean’s Office requesting more funding, said the UOFC could also use more funding. Twarek said the UOFC received a record number of funding requests this year, which meant some organizations did not receive any funding. In years past, he added, other University offices — such as the Dean’s Office and the Chaplain’s Office — have served as additional funding sources for student groups seeking funds. This year, those offices have turned away these organizations, Twarek said.
“Because those offices are under budgetary constraints, they don’t have the money,” he said. “Groups expect us to pick up the slack.”
Tao said there were at least two solutions to the YCC and UOFC budget crunch: The Dean’s Office could adjust the fee for inflation or make the fee mandatory. Gentry said he does not know how much the Dean’s Office might increase the fee, if it chooses to do so.
The student activities fee was implemented for the 2005-’06 school year to phase out the Dean’s Office contribution to the YCC budget, which was then $21,000 per year. The fee contributes to the budgets of the YCC, UOFC and the club sports program.
Yale is not alone in requesting students to make such a contribution. Harvard’s student activities fee, which is also optional, stands at $75. Princeton asks students for $65, while at Dartmouth College, students have a mandatory $75 fee added to their tuition bill.