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UA Calls for Fee Referendum

By Alice N. Gilchrist
Staff Reporter

Before the end of the semester, undergraduates will be given the opportunity to indicate whether or not they would be in favor of initiating a Student Life Fee. The Undergraduate Association Council approved a referendum on the question at an emergency meeting last night.

"This marks the first time in anyone's memory that a serious, well-formed proposal has come before the student body on the issue of funding Institutionally-supported," said UA President Stacy E. McGeever '93.

In the event that students decide to initiate a Student Life Fee, a second referendum will be held before the end of the term in which students will be asked what services they would like to include on the fee.

The referendum on the Student Life Fee will offer students a chance to change the way student activities, athletic cards, and the Course Evaluation Guide are funded. Students will determine if they would like MIT to incorporate a Student Life Fee, billed by the Bursar's Office, that would pay for any or none of the three choices.

The preliminary referendum will address the questions of whether a Student Life Fee should be implemented, who should set the amount going to student activities, and whether undergraduate athletic cards and the Course Evaluation Guide should be covered by the fee.

UA Vice President J. Paul Kirby '92 promised "a lot of publicity" concerning the exact meaning and implications of each of the referendum questions. All undergraduate students, even those living off-campus, will receive mailings explaining the contents of the referendum, McGeever said.

Currently there is no set date for the referendum, McGeever said. The UA Election Committee will determine when the referendum will be held.

Voter turnout discussed

Improving voter turnout was one of the most discussed issues at the meeting. Next House Representative Jonathan J. Lee '93 said, "It is critical for the future legitimacy of the UA to maximize student participation. ... having the referendum on May 3 and 4 [when pre-registration materials are distributed] will obviously improve voter turnout. The extra time is also important for publicity and student awareness."

However, IFC Representative Mark A. Hershberg '95 thought the referendum should be held earlier. He said the date should occur soon after the information concerning the fee is mailed out to students, "before people forget about it."

Hershberg also stressed that almost "all students pass through Lobby 10 and the Student Center [possible voting locations], and if they are motivated, they will vote."

Kirby explained that "a lot of times, the low voter turnout is the result of a low level of publicity," which will not happen with this referendum. Furthermore, he said that turnout is "a function of the importance of the issue" to the voters, and that the "tuition bill concerns all students."

FinBoard revamping discussed

The possible revamping of the UA Finance Board was also discussed at the meeting. In particular, it was suggested that the affiliations of FinBoard members change. For example, there are currently no independent living group or dormitory representatives, but the proposed system would incorporate one of each.

The changes in representation have been proposed so that FinBoard will be composed of more directly elected groups of students, according to McGeever. FinBoard is responsible for the allocation of funds to student activities, according to Kirby, so the proposed changes are related to the possible adoption of a Student Life Fee.