ASG hears plan to raise fee, passes cell phone bill

Nitesh Srivastava

At a brief meeting Wednesday night, the Associated Student Government Senate heard plans for a Student Activities Fee increase and passed a bill calling for improved cell phone reception on and off campus.

Plans to raise the fee will be formally presented as a bill at next week’s meeting, said ASG President Patrick Keenan-Devlin, a Music senior. Currently, students pay $40 each quarter toward the fee in their tuition, which provides nearly $1 million for student activities. ASG distributes that money to 39 student groups to fund their expenses.

The bill will suggest a $2 fee increase each quarter in 2007 and 2008, and an additional $1.30 increase each quarter in 2009. Also, starting next school year, all 104 student groups recognized by ASG would be eligible for funding.

ASG classifies groups that can receive funding as A-status groups, while all other groups fall into B- or T-status. If the bill is passed, most of the extra money will go toward A-status groups. The bill would limit the funding B- and T-status groups can receive next year to 1.5 percent of the fee, about $14,000. The amount will gradually increase to 2.5 percent of the fee over three years.

“This is a significant increase from zero,” Keenan-Devlin said.

The fee needs to be raised because the number of student groups has increased by 50 percent since 1996, and the number of requests for funding and the cost of student groups’ programming have increased as well, Keenan-Devlin said. The change in the fee will be staggered over three years so students aren’t immediately burdened with a large increase in their tuition, he said.

Some senators questioned limiting the funding for B- and T-status groups, because it would limit ASG’s power to fund student groups. Others asked how much extra work ASG would have to do to potentially fund 65 more student groups. Keenan-Devlin emphasized that the bill was only a policy statement and that determining the logistics of the bill would take place during the next few weeks.

“It’s going to take a massive amount of work to get student group leaders on the same page,” he said.

ASG also passed a bill to lobby Northwestern administrators to improve cell phone reception on and off campus. The bill asks for a HereAndNow poll to determine which service providers students use and where students have trouble getting reception. The results of the poll will be taken to administrators to convince them to work to get more cell phone towers in needed areas.

“A cell phone without reception is just an expensive paperweight,” said Weinberg freshman Michael Sachaj, who presented the bill to the Senate.

Senators questioned the emphasis on student safety in the bill as the only reason for improving cell phone service, because convenience was also an important reason.

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