GUSA representatives on Tuesday approved a proposal designed to increase funding for student activities and programs by establishing a student activities endowment fund and instituting a mandatory student activities fee included in the annual tuition increase.

The proposal, co-sponsored by sophomore class representative arty LaFalce (COL ’03) and senior class representative Catie Sheehan (COL ’01), received 13 votes of a possible 14 votes; sophomore class representative Oliver “Trey” Street (SFS ’03) was the only abstention in the vote.

Under the plan, the amount of funds available to student groups will increase, as the amount of university funding presently provided will be augmented by the proceeds of a student activities fee and proceeds from alumni donations. As the plan currently stands, the amount of current funds available to students should increase by approximately $100,000.

The current operating budget will be augmented in two ways. Along with the student activities fee of $50 per semester, the plan asks the university to designate $3 million of the $1 billion Third Century Campaign for student activities.

“Implementing the student activities fee is the only way we could ensure that the students would see the money right away,” LaFalce said.

The student activities fee will be phased in over the course of three years, beginning in the 2001-02 academic year with $25 dollars per semester. The additional revenue will not only enhance the growth of the endowment, but also significantly increase the current student activities budget, Sheehan said.

According to LaFalce, the fee will not exceed $50 per semester, and GUSA hopes the student activity fee will continually decrease as the endowment grows. The fee will not increase the previously assessed household contribution for students already receiving financial aid from the university.

“I think the major accomplishment is that the students and administrators shared the responsibility and worked in a partnership to solve the problem,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Juan Gonzalez. “It was a multi-layered attempt to find an answer in a collective spirit.”

In a special election held for the vacant representative seat on Friday, Feb. 2, GUSA will receive feedback from students when the plan is to be presented in a referendum.

“I absolutely think that the students and administration are going to be behind us on this one,” LaFalce said. “I think it is the best way we have right now to generate funds for student activities, and on top of that, alums will be able to give back to the groups they were involved in.”

On average, organizations at Georgetown receive less money than organizations at comparable area schools, according to student-produced the Report on Student Life published in May 1999. The report found that Georgetown spends an average of $35.71 per student, compared with $103.92 at the University of Pennsylvania and $142.96 at Duke University.

“There’s more than one group of people to credit here . it is encouraging that the university was willing to accept responsibility for those students who are given aid, and also the students taking the initiative to think strategically for short and long term purposes,” Gonzalez said.

While the Georgetown Funding Board will continue to distribute funds based on budget requests, one half of the income generated by the student activities fee will be used in the current operating budget, and the remaining money will be designated for student activities and invested with the university endowment.

Next month, the Office of Alumni and University Relations will begin to solicit funds from recent alumni. The Council of Deans agreed to allow students to petition for funds from the 10 most recent classes of alumni that will go directly to the student activities endowment. While students will be involved in the fundraising process, OAUR and the Office of Student Affairs will be primarily responsible for reaching the $3 million goal.

The Council of Deans will re-evaluate the progress of the solicitation campaign in spring 2001. If inadequate funds are received, the plan recommends that the Council of Deans “strongly consider” the inclusion of a student activities check-box on the Annual Fund fundraising form.

“We went before the Council of Deans before to try to get included in the annual fund, but student activities won’t be included just yet,” LaFalce said. “It’s our ultimate goal to be included.”

According to Sheehan, the plan has been in the works since last spring.

“Marty and I started talking about the funding problems last year,” Sheehan said. “We were looking for a long-term solution that would ultimately give greater financial stability.”

Because the proposal has now been approved, GUSA representatives will try to educate students on campus about the benefits of the student activities fee and alumni solicitations. Next, the proposal will be brought before the Main Campus Planning Committee and the university board of directors.

Sheehan said student organizations have been very supportive of the proposal. Particularly, the Student Activities Commission unanimously voted in favor of the plan at a recent meeting.

“It’s the best solution I’ve heard in the four years I’ve been here, and I anticipate a tremendous response from it,” SAC chair Terry Platchek (COL ’01) said. “My job is hard because I always have to say no to some groups because we can’t find the funding. With the proposal, I think this is something we’ll be able to deal with a lot better.”

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