Student Senate hears fee increases

Stephanie Markham, News Editor

The Student Senate tabled a resolution to support a total of $6.30 in student fee increases and heard the unofficial results of the student government elections Wednesday.

Various student fees are up for increase, including the legal assistance fee by $0.23, the general student activity fee by $0.48, the student publications fee by $0.33, the academic technology fee by $1.67, the concert fee by $0.23, and the athletic fee by $5.36. The campus-wide improvement fee would be the only one to decrease by $2.

If approved by the Board of Trustees, these changes would total $40.75, up from $34.45.

According to the proposal, the overall cost of mandatory student fees would equal $116.79 per credit hour for the 2015-2016 year.

Dan Nadler, the vice president for student affairs, asked the Student Senate to consider supporting the proposed increases to assist with the budgetary pressures caused by lower enrollment and declining state support.

“While probably all of the fees deserve some sense of increase because most have not been increased since about the 2007-2008 academic year, that would be really unfair to unload that onto the laps of the students overnight, and it would be very unfair to their families,” he said.

He said the campus improvement fee would decrease because plans for a new science building are not realistic in the near future, so it is unfair to ask students to keep supporting the initiative and instead those fees can go elsewhere.

Tom Michael, the athletic director, said with the student fee not having increased over the past few years, it has been more difficult for departments to operate.

“It’s very important for us to be fiscally responsible as a department and as a unit,”
Michael said. “We’re working very hard with our coaches and administrators to make sure that we do that.”

Nadler said student fee revenue has decreased by $1,031,996 since fiscal year 2011 because of fewer students are enrolling to pay the fees.

Nadler compared Eastern’s athletic fee, which is currently $8.64 per credit hour, to Illinois State University’s athletic fee, which is $19.42 per credit hour, Northern Illinois University’s athletic fee, which is $22.59 per credit hour, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s athletic fee, which is $26.25 per credit hour.

“$14 would still be the lowest of all of these institutions, but it would put us in a much better position in terms of generating revenue to close that gap,” Nadler said.

The senate tabled the resolution to give members more time to consider the numbers before they decide whether or not they support them.

According to the unofficial results, 560 students voted in the election, which was open to students via an email survey Monday and Tuesday. Eastern currently has 8,913 undergraduate students.

Shirmeen Ahmad, who ran unopposed for student body president, received 411 votes for the position and 79 votes of no confidence.

Catie Witt, who ran unopposed for executive vice president, received 441 votes for the position and 54 votes of no confidence.

Courtney Sage, who ran against Derek Pierce for vice president for student affairs, won the unofficial election with 255 votes to Pierce’s 208. No-confidence votes for the position totaled 43.

Stephen Simpson, who ran unopposed for vice president for academic affairs, received 419 votes for the position and 68 votes of no confidence.

Student senators elected include Emily Christian with 381 votes, Arif Ali Jalbahi with 344 votes, Maralea Negron with 349 votes, Chun Gi Park with 323 votes, Danielle Burden with 362 votes, and Allie Bohnstegel with 379 votes.

Reggie Thedford, the student body president, said the results will be unofficial until next Wednesday’s meeting, which will give senate members and students time to contest them.


Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].