For the first time in six years, the student activities fee has risen.
Last spring, after several years of discussion, the Yale College Council and Yale College Dean’s Office agreed to raise the amount from $75 to $125, partially because the financial aid office announced that it would now explicitly cover the fee. The increase generated an additional $131,195 for the YCC’s annual budget, giving the organization a total budget of $360,000 for the current year, excluding the budget for the Undergraduate Organizations Committee, according to YCC Finance Director Daniel Tovbin ’17. This money may allow for a bigger-name artist at this year’s Spring Fling, and it will also fund a number of smaller YCC-hosted events, such as the Fall Show comedy performance or the Harvard-Yale dance party in Commons before The Game.
“[The SAF] was preventing YCC from doing more activities, and it was getting to the point where it was getting impossible to even put on what we put on the past,” former YCC President Michael Herbert ’16 said. “Last year, once we got approval to get it covered by financial aid, it became a no-brainer because it wouldn’t be a problem for students from low-income backgrounds.”
Herbert added that the question of raising the amount will be revisited every two years. Students also have the option of opting out of the fee.
Each year, the SAF provides funding for student organizations, sports and events. Including the annual $40,000 the President’s Office gives the YCC specifically for Spring Fling, Tovbin said, this year the YCC has $276,000 earmarked for the event. This is a 41.5 percent increase from last year’s $195,000 allocation.
Spring Fling Chair Tobias Holden ’17 said it is possible the increased budget will allow the YCC to bring a more expensive artist to campus, adding that the supporting acts could also have more name recognition.
“There may be some fun changes to the Spring Fling experience due to the increase in our budget, depending on feedback from the Spring Fling 2016 survey regarding improvements from past iterations of the event,” Holden said. “As of right now it seems like what Yale students want more than anything else is an increase in the caliber of artist we book for the show.”
YCC President Joe English ’17 said the change in the SAF also contributed to an increase in the UOC budget, which funds registered student organizations, including providing grants to publications as well as funding regular meetings and internal activities. Thirty-five percent of the SAF goes to the UOC budget.
Tovbin highlighted the equalization of class council budgets as another important aspect of the raise.
“We balanced out the subsidiary class councils to have the same amount of money,” Tovbin said. “Last year [the Freshman Class Council] was given $2,000, [the Sophomore Class Council] and [Junior Class Council] were both given $3,000, and this year they’ve all been given $3,500.”
The YCC will also be able to host a number of other, smaller events, such as a “Harvest Hoedown” at Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant this Saturday, or tailgates in collaboration with the Whaling Crew and Yale Student Athlete College Council, YCC Events Director Amour Alexandre ’17 said.
Still, Yale has the third-lowest SAF in the Ivy League, trailed only by Harvard at $75 and Princeton at $65. The next-closest school is Brown, which has an annual SAF of $214. Harvard is the only other Ivy League school which gives students the option of opting out of the SAF.
“From what we can see, there is a huge discrepancy between what students are requesting for their organizations and what the YCC is able to given them,” English said. “This increase in the student activities fee is able to alleviate some of these concerns and will also certainly help them to throw more events to add to the diversity and vibrancy of student life.”
Last year, the average student activities fee in the Ivy League was $159.57.