University of Maine students will be digging a little deeper into their pockets next year.
A measure to raise the student activity fee $10 from $35 to $45 was approved Wednesday by a vote of 540 to 318.
However, the results were challenged in a complaint filed with the Fair Election Practices Commission.
FEPC Chairman Andrew Weatherhead said the commission guidelines prevented him from elaborating on what the complaint was about. A hearing will be held on Monday at 4:30 p.m. and the issue will be made public.
The ballot question read: “Do you support limiting any increases to the student activity fee over the next four years to a one-time increase of $10, effective fall of 2006?”
Now that the measure has been approved by the students, it will be passed on to Dean of Students Robert Dana unless action is taken by the FEPC.
Dana will send the measure to UMaine President Robert Kennedy, who will pass it on to the Board of Trustees.
The process is expected to take a few months to complete.
Earlier this year, an attempt to raise the fee by $15 failed.
After the rejection of that measure by the students, the General Student Senate met and lowered the amount to $10 for this vote. The Student Activity Fee had been set at $35 since 1999.
More than 180 student organizations and campus events are funded by this fee.
Derek Mitchell, vice president of student entertainment, authored the resolution that proposed the increase.
“An increase to the student activity fee was critical for Student Government and the welfare of student organizations and entertainment on campus,” said Mitchell.
“I am thrilled that the UMaine student body approved the increase to the student activity fee. Students obviously saw the benefits, and supported our efforts to bring bigger, better entertainment to UMaine and to better fund our student organizations and groups.”
Mitchell added that the seven-year span without a raise in the fee had made it difficult to find money for groups on campus.
According to Mitchell, inflation and an increasing number of student organizations made it difficult to get money to the groups that needed it.
Sen. William Pomerleau was another advocate of this proposal. He spent time talking to students about the measure before the vote. He was pleased by the results of the vote.
“Overall, it was a great idea and a great initiative,” said Pomerleau. “My only concern was the mere fact that we’re asking for more money would scare people off without having adequate information.”
The relatively close results in both votes shows that many students are reluctant to pay more than they already do for tuition, room and board and other fees.
Amy St. Peter, a freshman journalism major, believes there could be a better way to get these funds.
“We pay enough to come here, it seems like an extra fee is uncalled for,” said St. Peter. “We can go to games free and concerts at the MCA building, but there’s a $10 fee on activities? It just doesn’t make much sense because some of us don’t choose to use these ‘free’ things.”
Dana explained why he thought it important that more money be brought into the university for these activities and organizations.
“While it is difficult to self tax, it is essential if we want to continue the remarkable programs and activities so very important to our students,” said Dana.
He said that it was important for UMaine to bring in more diverse entertainment and activities for its students.
“We are not a desert and we need constantly to attend to making this an enriched, alive, an exciting, and engaging place for students to live, learn, and grow.”