SGA rejects student fee increase

Erika Ward

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After tabling a discussion last week to obtain more information before coming to a consensus, the Student Government Association (SGA) met on Tuesday night to vote on student fee increases that have been proposed by Western Illinois University administrators.

After three weeks of debate on the fee boost, senators made their final arguments for and against the proposal. David Dunn, president of SGA, expressed the urgency of passing a bill relating to the fees, whether or not the bill in discussion was passed.

Under the university’s proposed increase, student fees would jump an additional $26.55 per semester. The increase would be used for debt payment for the Union and Recreation Center ($9.00 per student per semester) as well as to boost the school’s athletics budget ($7.65), facilities fee ($7.05), student technology fee ($1.50), Beu Health Center (60 cents), Go West transit fee (45 cents) and the student activity fine arts fee (30 cents).

“We do need to pass a bill before the Board of Trustees meeting on the (March) 27th to say exactly what we want in regards to students,” Dunn said.  “All of you are the voices, the real nitty gritty.  You get the opinions of your constituents and bring them back here that way we can graph something that me and Michael (Quigley) can take to the administration and say ‘This is where we stand.’  We hope that this discussion will finally lead to something productive so we can put this issue to rest.”

Michael Quigley, Student Board of Trustees, urged a “no” vote on the bill in order to come up with a better bill that more accurately reflects the SGA’s position.

“I will vote at the next Board of Trustees meeting in accordance with however this body votes tonight on these proposed fee increases,” Quigley said.  “It is often said that Western Illinois University is a student-centered university, and I believe that stems from the amount of input students have on a daily basis.

“That being said, for the past few years I don’t believe that our voices have been articulately stated and I believe that it is time we do just that,” Quigley continued.  “The past few years we have looked at marginal increases, some we agree with, some we do not, and we have passed them without any major issues.

“Over the past few weeks SGA has had a hearty debate over the merits of the proposed increases facing the incoming 2016 freshmen,” Quigley went on.  “Debating issues like these is what SGA is meant for.”

Quigley gave the amounts that the incoming freshmen would be paying over the course of four years, eight semesters, at Western.  

After further discussion, SGA utilized a new clicker voting system for the first time and cast a vote of two in favor, 24 opposed and one senator abstaining. 

The bill did not pass and President Dunn used his executive power to propose a special committee to create a new bill that will reflect the will of the students that will be proposed at the next SGA meeting on the Tuesday following spring break.

SGA also voted on and passed two other bills appointing two students to the Talent Grant and Tuition Waiver before adjourning.