By Stephen Fowler
Asst. News Editor
The 48th Legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) passed two bills proposing an increase to the Student Activities Fee (SAF) and Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA), respectively, and four appointments to the Constitutional Council on Monday during its final meeting before Thanksgiving break.
Bill 48s108, which calls for an increase in the SAF to adjust for inflation and improve the buying power for various initiatives around campus, proposes that for fiscal year 2015-2016, the SAF increase from $89 to $110.
In addition to the current SAF increase to $93 set to occur during 2015-2016, College junior and SGA President Jon Darby and College senior and Vice President for Finance Patrick O’Leary’s bill proposes a two dollar increase to “correct the current adjustment shortfall” and an additional $15 increase to fund multiple programs by the SGA.
These multiple programs are not already chosen but, according to the language of the bill, will include “student experience equity programs created by the Student Legislature and Executive Board to enable full participation in academic and extracurricular activities regardless of socioeconomic status, enhanced programming and creation of a Meeting and Event Facilitation Fund,” among other qualifications.
There were two amendments to the bill that passed; one amendment changed the language surrounding the $15 increase, which originally was delineated in three different five dollar usages, and the other called for the Governance Committee of the Legislature to contact heads of every Divisional Council to notify them of the impending referendum should this bill pass.
A third amendment, which called for the $15 increase to be a separate referendum question than the other SAF increases, was rejected by Darby and O’Leary.
After discussion on the impact the changes would have on graduate school fees and funding, how the dollar amount numbers were derived and how the referendum would work, the bill was passed 15-9-3.
The bill will be put up to a University-wide referendum no later than Dec. 9 and, if passed, must be approved by the University Board of Trustees before taking effect.
Bill 48s109, also written by Darby and O’Leary, alters the CoLA process from changing three percent every four years to two percent every year. The CoLA is a periodic adjustment to the SAF that takes into account the increase in the cost of living each year.
Darby explained the two percent number is on par with annual inflation rates and will provide a predictable change in the SAF for students every year. This change would also begin in the 2015-2016 school year.
Additionally, the language of the bill allows the Legislature to “pause” the increase whenever it feels the CoLA outpaces inflation or isn’t necessary.
Since the CoLA bill modifies the SGA Finance Code, the bill must be passed by the Legislature in two consecutive sessions by a majority vote of quorum or a two-thirds majority vote, whichever is larger.
The bill passed unamended 25-0-2.
The Legislature also unanimously confirmed College junior Connor Crum, College freshman Talia Burstein, College sophomore Brian Sy and second-year Emory Law student Amin Sadri as Associate Justices of the Emory Constitutional Council.
– By Stephen Fowler, Asst. News Editor
Stephen Fowler 16C is the political reporter at Georgia Public Broadcasting, the statewide NPR affiliate in Georgia. He graduated from Emory with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and covered the central administration and Greek Life for the Wheel before serving as assistant news editor, Emory Life editor and the Executive Digital Editor from 2015-16.