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Club leaders skeptical about fee

If passed, the $15 student activity fee would help fund on-campus concerts and multicultural events, bring speakers to the UA and pay for movies at Gallagher Theater. Online voting runs today until Wednesday.
By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 5, 2004
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Presidents of clubs and organizations, who activity fee supporters say would benefit from the funding, said they stand against the fee because they don't believe they'll ever see the money.

According to members of the Collaboration Board, clubs and organizations could benefit from the $15 per semester fee because 15 percent of the funds would be allocated to clubs that want to put on events that would benefit the student body.

But Dan McGuire, president of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, said that is misleading because money would only be given to certain types of clubs.

He said his club would not receive money because it is a pre-law organization and doesn't appeal to the whole student body.

McGuire said the fee would only increase funding for clubs that already have a lot of money.

"There is so much waste in ASUA," he said.

Mohammed Abdelwahab, Muslim Students Association treasurer, also said he wouldn't request funding from the Student Activity Fee Committee.

"I don't know how clubs would request the money, but I am assuming there will only be more red tape," he said.

According to the activity fee bylaws, clubs that receive funding from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Appropriations Board will not be eligible to apply for activity fee money.

ASUA Sen. Nick Bajema, who worked on the fee proposal, said he hopes the fee committee will work closely with the Appropriations Board to decide which funds are more suitable for different clubs.

But Nathan Bell, the Residence Hall Association president who wrote the fee proposal, said the fee committee would delegate the "general distribution" money.

In addition to concerns about funding, some club leaders said they aren't even informed enough to vote on the fee today.

Members of the Collaboration Board who are proposing the fee said at the ASUA Senate meeting last week they would visit clubs to educate students in the hopes that club leaders would "trickle down" information about the fee to students on campus.

Bajema said the decision to talk to club leaders was made in order to contact many students quickly.

That still left fee supporters only two days before elections to reach out to students about the fee.

Members of the Collaboration Board planned on having a booth on the UA Mall Thursday and Friday to hand out fliers and talk to students, but had to cancel because of bad weather.

Benedict said the group plans to be on the Mall today through Wednesday if the weather holds.

Bajema said student leaders will be attending club meetings this week and using listservs to reach clubs that will not be having meetings.

McGuire said no one has talked to him about the fee.

"It's their responsibility as representatives of the student body to let people know what they are doing with this," he said. "They shouldn't give blank statements."

Abdelwahab said he doesn't know much about the details of the fee and was surprised to hear the elections were today.

"I don't think any of us are going to vote," he said.

Brandon Peterson, computer science senior and Cats for Kids philanthropy head coordinator, said he was not planning on voting.

"I haven't seen the whole trickle-down effect," he said. "I personally don't see much, but I am not looking either."

Some club leaders said they are angry that they are being held responsible for educating the student body about the fee. They said the people working on the fee should be talking to students.

"It is more appropriate for people who came up with the idea to inform students," said Dega Farah, political science senior and National Panhellenic Council treasurer. "They shouldn't depend on student leaders because we didn't make the decision."

She said student leaders working on the fee haven't informed her enough for her to be an advocate.

To ensure that students know about the fee and the vote, J.P. Benedict, ASUA president, said fee organizers have been spreading the word since Thursday.

The group has been e-mailing listservs, posting information in residence halls and making announcements in classes, Benedict said.

There is also a link on the UA's home page that describes the activity fee, and clubs will be contacted this week to remind them to vote, Benedict said.

Bajema said fee organizers who are members of clubs will lobby those clubs to vote this week.

"Everyone has taken it upon themselves to go to separate clubs," he said.

As of last night, he did not know how many clubs had received information about the fee.

McGuire said students will vote, but they won't "have a clue" about what they are voting for.

"I feel the student population is not well-informed on the rules and procedures of the fee," he said.

He said he would like to see the elections boycotted.

"How can we stop the vote?" he said.

Farah said the fee election is poorly organized and that the elections shouldn't happen.

"It's way too rushed. None of my friends are ready to vote," she said. "No one has a clue what it is about."

She said the Zeta Phi Beta sorority would vote against the fee because student leaders didn't warn them or explain anything to them about the fee.

"If I am rushed on something, then I say no," she said. "They are not giving people choices."

- Natasha Bhuyan and Aaron Mackey contributed to this report.

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