Student Senate passes new fee

By Dave Hon

April 2, 2012

Student Senate passed new fees for students Monday night at their second to last Senate meeting.

Author of the bill for a student fee, Sen. Amanda Johnson and Sen. Brian Shewell look over wording of the bill which was approved by SGA April 2. Photo by Jason Brown

The Student Success Act, which spent weeks in committee before being brought to the Senate, implements a $75 fee on full-time students, a $50 fee on part-time students and a $25 fee on summer students.

Student Success Act, Meeting Minutes, Roll Call Vote

Sen. Amanda Johnson presented the Student Success Act, which faced several failed and successful amendments.

Sen. Clifford Peterson offered an amendment to increase the fee to $125 and also add an end to the legislation after three years—also called a sunset clause. Petersen also suggested that the student body be allowed to vote on legislation within one year, giving administration time to adjust if the fee was struck down by the students. Petersen said that the amendments might have passed if they were separate.

“I should have made a motion to unblock them,” Petersen said. “It just went a little fast, and I wasn’t ready.”

Separate or together, Johnson said that she opposed both amendments. Johnson said that increasing the amount of money for the Student Success Act would be “way too complicated.”

“I feel like $75 is a significant amount,” Johnson said. “A lot of students are opposed to even the $75.”

“I don’t ever see a reason why we don’t need the $75 fee,” Johnson said. “If we were to get some of the state appropriations back—we need that money. We want to grow.”

Clifford’s amendments failed, but in a roll call vote, he voted in affirmation of the legislation.

An amendment to increase the number of students that serve on the committee to four and decrease the number of administrators to two failed as well.

The only amendment to pass was one that struck out a single sentence in the legislation that didn’t give the advisory committee the power to increase or decrease the fee. Still, any changes to the legislation must be passed through the student Senate.

After deliberation on the amendments, Sen. Andrea Vaccaro delivered another speech in affirmation, citing Northwest Missouri State’s $500 fee that was passed by their student Senate. She said that, in comparison, the Student Success Act was a reasonable fee.

While questioning Vaccaro, several senators questioned the method of passage for the legislation. Senate will not allow the student body to vote on the legislation.

“Because I think we have the students’ best interest at heart, and we have the voice to tell them,” Vaccarro said.

Johnson also presented legislation for new SGA bylaws to supplement Article XI, the provision in the constitution that could let students vote on the Student Success Act if they secure signatures from 10 percent of the student Body. The bylaw would require students to adhere to the university’s policies regarding petitions and limit students to a thirty-day time frame after the Senate’s passage of a bylaw for any petition they wish to file under Article XI of the SGA Constitution. There were no speeches in negation nor were there any speeches in affirmation following Johnson’s authorship speech. The by-law passed the senate with a majority vote, but a single Senator voted against the bylaw.

In a speech, Johnson said that the bylaw was for clarification purposes.

“We thought it was time to have something updated so students have somewhere to go if they want to push something through like that,” Johnson said.

Barry Hersh, a student potentially seeking to petition the SGA under Article XI, was not opposed to the bylaw.

“There needs to be a timeline or else 20 years down the road someone might try to repeal this,” Hersh said.

He said that before he seeks action under Article XI, he would like to speak with the SGA President Alison Norris.

“The petition is a last resort,” Hersh said. “The university needs the money or else it’s in trouble. 700 signatures is not going to that difficult to pull off.”