Student Government Association (SGA) and Graduate Student Association (GSGA) convened Monday night for their first joint legislative session of the year to discuss chartering shuttles for students on midterm voting day and Student Programing Council (SPC) funding. The SGA Finance Committee spoke on the possibility of raising the Student Activities Fee (SAF).
Possible SAF Hike
SGA Freshman Representative Mo Singhal (22C), who serves on the SGA Finance Committee, said the committee is looking to increase the SAF from the semesterly fee of $92 to $103 to better finance student clubs.
“We found that we don’t have that much money for clubs,” Singhal said.
SGA Vice President of Finance Paul Park (17Ox, 19B) was not present at the meeting to comment on the potential increase.
SGA Speaker of the Legislature Lori Steffel (21C) said that the increase would be “controversial” because of Emory’s already “big price tag,” but the extra money would help bring the University on par with other peer institutions.
Singhal echoed Steffel’s sentiments.
“Tufts, Wash U, they have a total of four times what we’re doing … we are at a humongous disparity with other universities that are the same size as ours and we need to catch up,” Singhal said.
Singhal said that both Tufts and Washington University have $4 million dollars in student activities fees.
“We get a total of $1.7 million over an entire year, they have upwards of four,” Singhal said. “We take $182 per year. If you add both semesters, Tufts takes $368 … per year.”
Singhal said a formal bill proposing the increase has yet to be drafted and that the committee is still at least one year away from any possible SAF increase.
The SGA Constitution considers any changes to the SAF a matter of significance, which would require a public town hall and a University-wide referendum. A ⅔ majority would have to approve the change.
Changes to the SAF also require approval by the Board of Trustees.
SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy said he and Vice President of the Diversity and Equity Committee Maya Foster (17Ox, 19C) would look at the effects the increase would bring to various communities on campus.
“Maya as well as I would definitely plan to speaking with communities across the college campus addressing how that may affect … low-income communities, because obviously that is one of the most important parts of the conversation,” Priddy said. “That’s definitely a plan if the Finance Committee decided to take something like that forward.”
Shuttles on Election Day
SGA and GSGA discussed arranging shuttles between the University and polling booths on Nov. 6 for the midterm elections.
They are tentatively planning to arrange shuttles that will stop at Woodruff Circle and Clairmont campus and take students to Druid Hills High School and the Emory Presbyterian Church, the two places where most undergraduates are registered to vote.
The student governments said they aim to run the shuttles between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
SGA President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) discussed SPC budget concerns because the organization lost 20 percent of its funding due to the 2017 referendum that split student government into independent graduate and undergraduate bodies.
“After the referendum happened two years ago, GSGA is no longer providing funds to SPC, and this caused concern for SPC because their budget has dramatically decreased,” Ma said.
GSGA President Sydney Kaplan (19L) justified GSGA’s decision to limit their contributions to SPC, saying that most of the events organized by the SPC are attended overwhelmingly by undergraduate students.
“This is actually a big reason why we split. … Graduate students were paying a lot of money for SPC and … 1 percent of the attendees of these events were graduate students,” she said.
Priddy said the issue required greater discussion between SGA leadership, suggesting that a private meeting should be convened before the issue is brought up before the entire legislature.
“The budget is very complicated with SPC — more than what was mentioned now,” Priddy said.
SPC President Abbey Kelly (19B) and SPC Vice President Brett Weingart (19B) were unable to attend the meeting.