Student life wants to use fee increase to improve extracurricular activities.
By Austin P. Taylor
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees voted to increase the student activity fee from $1 to $3 per credit hour. The increase will go into effect in the fall.
This is the first raise in the student activity fee since it was created in 2006. All previous proposals to increase the fee were denied.
“I really feel like it’s going to be a game changer for us,” Mark Bigelow, the interim director of student life at this college, said in a March 22 interview.
Bigelow said the increase will be used to enhance existing co-curricular and extracurricular programs to “make the academic experience more robust and enriching.”
Bigelow also said the increased fee could be used to enhance the experience for online students. Bigelow said no plans have been solidified for online yet.
Bigelow said this is not the first time students have sought an increase in the student activity fee, but previous attempts to raise the fee were struck down by the board.
“In 2013 a proposal was made to raise the fee by a dollar, but the board said they needed to hear the student voice,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow said the fee is still either at or below what is charged by other Texas colleges, so the colleges’ price of enrollment is still competitive.
Quintin Longoria, Student District Council chair, said this increase will help the student activity fee compensate for growing inflation, which has made it difficult to adequately fund campus organizations and events without raising the fee.
“It’s been almost a decade since we reviewed this fee and so we have 10 years’ worth of depreciation, so the funding we had when we first instituted this fee is not quite what it used to be,” Longoria said.
Longoria said this increase will allow the Student Activity Fee Committee to consider more applications throughout the academic year.
“We have two options. We can either seek to preserve the money till the end of the year like we plan and that involves forgoing applications,” Longoria said. “Or we can stay true to our first-come, first-service and hit zero whenever that comes. We’ve decided to go with the first choice.”
While this method has been working for the committee, Longoria said they do not believe it is sustainable.
The increase was approved at the March 20 board of trustees meeting.
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon, District 4 trustee Marcelo Casillas and District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante were the only board members to oppose the increase.
In a March 26 interview, McClendon said he was concerned the fee increase would be a “burden on some students.”
McClendon was not satisfied with the number of respondents to the survey presented by the Student District Council.
He said the Alamo Colleges student population is more than 60,000, so the survey’s sample size of 1,715 students was not enough to convince him to support the increase.
Kayla Salwey, president of the Student Government Association of this college, said the surveys were conducted across the Alamo Colleges.
The 1,715 students polled make up at least 3 percent of each college’s total population, which is a sufficient sample size, she said.
To ensure students respond to the survey, SGA went into several classes across campus as well as emailed the survey to students.
According to the fiscal year 2018 annual budget, the Alamo Colleges most recent unduplicated headcount was 72,123. The total of 1,715 makes up 2.37 percent of the Alamo Colleges student population.
Math Professor Gerald Busald said the sample size would allow for over 95 percent confidence in the survey results.
The student activity fee is used to fund this college’s cultural celebrations, intramural sports, on-campus events, club activities and the office of student life.
Any clubs seeking to obtain funds from the committee must submit applications to the Student Activity Fee Committee and present a proposal at a committee meeting. The next meeting is 3 p.m. April 12 in the faculty lounge of Loftin Student Center.
Funds for each college are determined by enrollment.
Any questions about the student activity fee can be directed to the office of student life at 210-486-0125.