SGA senate elects new speaker, speaker pro tempore and discusses student fee increase

     During a Jan. 20 virtual meeting, the SGA senate elected a new speaker of the senate and speaker pro tempore and heard a presentation on the prospect of raising student fees. 

     Senator of LAS Aidan Clark became the new speaker of the senate, taking the place of former speaker and Senator of Graduate School Nicholas St. John.  

     Senator at Large AJ Bailey subsequently became speaker pro tempore, who acts as a second in command to the speaker. Bailey will serve as speaker of the senate when Clark is unavailable.  

     St. John nominated Clark, who accepted. No other senators were nominated or nominated themselves, so Clark won by acclamation.  

     After Clark was elected as speaker, he opened the floor for speaker pro tempore nominations. Bailey nominated himself, and St. John nominated Senator at Large Joel Sorensen, who declined. Bailey also won by acclamation.  

     Following the elections, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Carlos Garcia spoke to SGA regarding the future raising of student fees. Garcia explained that most student fees are “stagnant,” and therefore unable to increase over time with other funding needs.  

     Garcia recommended revisiting the cap on student fees and permitting an increase based on the Consumer Price Index and inflation. 

     “We all know that there are a million less students registered for college this year in the United States,” he said. “In order for us to be able to keep up … the student fee is going to need to change. If it doesn’t, we have no choice but to reduce costs.” 

     Reducing costs, he said, would mean that the university would have to decrease labor and services to afford the cost of maintenance and salaries.  

     While he acknowledged that most students react badly at first to hearing about student fees being raised, he said, “Never has a student ever come up to me and said, ‘I want less services.’” 

     When Senator at Large Amanda Ford asked for clarification on what the senate’s role will be in raising student fees, Garcia explained that the ultimate decision about raising fees would be sent to the student body.  

     He asked the senate to consider the need to raise fees and outlined the need for a supercommittee of senators that would “write language” for the proposal that would eventually appear on the student ballot, if the senators decide to include it.  

     When pressed by Sorensen about the Carryforward fund containing a surplus of money from last year and the difficulty of raising student fees during the pandemic, Garcia said, “What I’m proposing is that each fee be allowed to increase. It doesn’t have to increase.” 

     SGA has not yet decided on allowing fees to increase.