Proposed fee to support senate should be part of UI students’ expenses

It is not a surprise to anyone on campus that our financial situation is dire.

As of two weeks ago, the state of Illinois owes the University $313 million in funds. With the budget crisis at the state and university level, it is obvious that some of that deficit will fall on the student body. As a junior in molecular and cellular biology, I owed the University $8,556, with $1,655 being in fees.

While I am supremely grateful that we attend a university with guaranteed tuition (freshmen in my major will pay $1,063 more a semester than me), I understand the purpose that fees, in addition to tuition, serve.

Some fees, like the Transportation Fee, are clear; students need a mass transit system. This fee serves in the same way federal and state taxes go towards road construction and maintenance. But as the Illinois Student Senate proved last year with the Library/IT Fee Report, the system is flawed. Uncontrolled and unnecessary fees can do serious harm to the wallets of the average student.

Last Wednesday, Student Body President David Pileski and I unveiled a resolution that supports the reinstatement of a fee that would fund the Illinois Student Senate. While the exact amount of the fee has yet to be determined, we both agree that a fee of between 50 cents and $1 per semester is both sufficient to meet the needs of the ISS and necessary to continue allow the senate to serve the students at the University of Illinois.

Currently, the University of Illinois is one of only two Big Ten Universities to be funded directly by the University administration. Annually, the Illinois Student Senate is given $39,000 from the Office of the Dean of Students to carry out the business we undertake. This includes such activities as the upcoming annual meeting of the student body, Student Rights Week in the spring, environmental sustainability initiatives and even social events to bring a wide range of campus together.

A fee of one dollar per semester per student would increase the ISS annual budget between two- and three-fold.

However, more important than the dollar amount generated, having a dedicated student fee would bring about many positive changes. A direct fee would also hold the Illinois Student Senate more accountable to the student body.

There is little we as students can do to help improve the state and university fiscal crisis. As the flow of money into the University is still much lower than promised, weaknesses in the ability of the administration to fully fund student projects will become more apparent. It is my desire that ISS can step in and fill as many gaps as possible.

In my opinion, this fee is a balance between a minimal, controlled fee, while still being large enough to accomplish the goals it sets out to achieve.

A student fee directly supporting the senate necessitates that ISS remains a collective body of the students, for the students, and truly by the students.

_Ryan Young,_

_LAS student senator_