Student Senate fee necessary to sustain campus programs and services

Student senate fee necessary to sustain campus programs

French philosopher Voltaire states, “We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.”

A mistake often made by our tongues occurred in print Monday, with generalizations and misrepresentation of facts. For decades, a student fee of one dollar funded the student government of the University of Illinois. While the fee was discontinued, I feel it is an important fee for our campus community.

The editorial board states that students pay many different and issue-focused fees. We pay to support the performing arts, sustainability efforts, numerous scholarships, Registered Student Organizations funding and cultural programming. However, these fees do not have the same ability to advocate for students. It was the senate that saved students over $4 this year by engaging the Board of Trustees. Organizations can adopt too narrow a vision that they forget about the greater campus community as a whole and create more damage than good.

I recognize the sentiment of the editorial board regarding the ISS’s spending habits. I strongly feel that every dollar not spent is a wasted dollar. While the past five years had surpluses, the senate does not have adequate funds to sustain programs and services for students. When the fee was discontinued, senate discontinued discounted Daily Illini advertisements for RSOs, rented refrigerators for students and other projects.

Even with the meager budget, senators dream big. Vice-President Emeritus Carey Hawkins Ash authored iTAP, a textbook program aimed at purchasing new textbooks for the library to assist those who could not afford buying the new books. Senator Jim Maskeri authored a resolution to ensure the operation of the Illini Book Exchange, a student-created marketplace. But all these programs failed to leave the drawing board due to funding. It is more powerful for peers to provide services and assistance directly to peers rather than grant the administration more money with less oversight as is suggested in the editorial. With an increased budget, senators will be able to spend the dollars necessary to sustain high-impact projects.

In difficult budget times, no one wants to spend more. As a fellow student, I am concerned with how the fees I pay are spent and who is controlling them. The proposed student government fee would be one of the most transparent fees you pay on this campus and would only enhance student life at the University of Illinois.

_David Pileski, student body president_