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Deans, Students Clarify Activity Fee Allocations

By Jennifer DeBoer


Following confusion from student leaders regarding the recently announced activity fee, officers of the Association for Student Activities, Undergraduate Association, and Graduate Student Council met recently with Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict and Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert recently to discuss the addition to next year’s tuition.

Misconceptions arising from information in the original MIT News Office press release were clarified at the meeting. In an e-mail sent to student group officers, ASA President Alvar Saenz Otero G said that the only correct part of the press release was the 4.7 percent total tuition increase, which included the $200 fee. The rumor of a separate “Student Activities Fund” was dismissed. In truth, money from the fee will be allotted to the Dean for Student Life and the Graduate Student Office for use at their own discretion.

The student representatives left the meeting with an assignment from Benedict to talk to students, meet with student leaders, and to formulate a proposal for the specific allotment of the funds. With help from Assistant Dean for Student Activities Tracy Purinton, the proposal is in the process of being finalized for submission to the deans.

“Hopefully, I’ll be getting the proposal within the next week,” Benedict said. “Probably within the next two weeks the content of the proposal will be made public.”

Activity fee lacks approval, details

“The general consensus from students is that they’re not in favor of the new activity fee,” said Undergraduate Association Council Speaker Victoria K. Anderson ’02. “Many students question the use of the funds for the financing of the Zesiger Center.” Students presently provide financial support for DuPont and Johnson Athletic Centers through a portion of their tuition.

“The problem people see is that the ‘activities fee’ is not going directly to student activities,” Anderson said.

As of yet, the actual designation of the new expenditure is undecided. “They’re not sure about whether it will be part of the regular tuition or if it will be a completely separate fee,” Anderson said. “There are advantages and disadvantages to both.”

In his e-mail, Saenz-Otero said that grants, fellowships, and similar forms of financial aid will not cover the $200 fee if it is a separate line item in the bursar’s bill. Benedict, however, argued that certain technical issues with graduate student payments make the inclusion of the fee as part of tuition disadvantageous.

Half of fee will go to student life

Only about half of the funding, Benedict said, will be used to support the cost of the new athletic facility. Benedict will receive approximately $400,000 and the Graduate Student Office approximately $200,000, to be allocated by the deans themselves. Benedict has already mentioned large event funding, Fall Festival, Spring Weekend, multi-cultural events, career fairs, club sports, and class councils as possible recipients of funding.

In addition, Benedict said more of the money will be held back for special initiatives that will be under the direction of the provost and the chancellor.

Colbert said that he had some ideas in mind for “promoting student life,” but he is also accepting input and proposals for the use of the new funds made available to him.

“The impetus for creating [the new fee] came from our pushing to provide more funding to student groups on campus, which has been going on all year. Combined with the advent of the Zesiger Center, our wish to increase the funds for student life took the form of this addition,” Benedict said.