The Rival's Guide to the Student Activity Fee Referendum

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This whole mess barely makes sense. Maybe we can help?

By Ali Shafi

For the past few months, our university has been bombarded with news, scandals, rumors, and jokes about the Student Activity Fee Referendum. However, for those without ties to the involved members and organizations, the facts of this discussion have been overshadowed by miscommunication and speculation. In a time where the AU meme page seems like the most accessible way to get information about what’s happening, a comprehensive timeline of events seems apt in order to understand where this started, how it’s evolved, and where we can go from here.

AUSG Referendum Timeline

·       Spring 2018: AUSG successfully votes to put a referendum on the ballot for the Fall 2018 AUSG elections

9/12/2018: Amplify the Student Experience Campaign Facebook page and website were created

-Proposes raising the student activity fee for AU Student Government

(AUSG), AU Club Council (AUCC), and AU Student Media Board (AUSM)

-Previously, the budget allocated 50% to AUSG, 30% to AUCC, and 20% to AUSM. In 2016, The Eagle reported that AUSG got 56%, AUCC got 19%, and AUSM got 25%

-This $11.50 (cited as the price of a Cava bowl) would generate $150,000

-Claims that due to inflation and the expansion of active clubs, more money is needed

·       9/13/2018: Senior Andrew Watring (On E-Board of On A Sensual Note and Artistic Director of Rude Mechanicals) posts a response calling the unanimous vote “irrelevant” since neither represent “student interests” and encouraging students to vote “No”

·       10/8/2018: The Eagle votes to write their editorial at an ed-board meeting originally planning on posting it on 21st

·       10/17/2018: Dean of the Undergraduate Senate Thomas Kenna submits his op-ed entitled, “Opinion: I will be voting ‘yes’ on the student activity fee referendum, and you should too”

-He was sent back the op-ed the following day and told to cut it down, he resubmitted it after another day

·       10/21/2018, 10:53 pm: The Eagle posted a staff editorial entitled, “Who benefits most from a student activity fee increase and to what end?”

-The editorial agrees with the referendum in the sense that AU clubs should get more funding, but the student body should recognize that who would get the most from that increase
-Their argument is that it’s unfair that students are forced to give money because of a fee for events that they aren’t guaranteed to go to due to occupancy regulations

·       10/22/2018, 11:35 am: Thomas Kenna’s article goes live

-Kenna has a few points: Our student activity fee is lower than other universities, our student media is award-winning, and KPU speakers and Founder’s Day Ball are highlight events for the students

-Kenna calls AUCC “opaque, bureaucratic and unaccountable” and that they don’t represent the students, and therefore, the students should consider AUSG taking AUCC’s responsibilities since they’re student-


·       10/22/2018, 8:28 pm: Former RHA President Sam Rogers posts a response to The Eagle article calling the referendum “wasteful” and claiming that investing more in clubs instead of AUSG will allow students to build more clubs, find their interests, and build community

-He also argues that AUSG, a collection of students, should know how expensive it is to attend AU and that student leaders should prioritize “college affordability and building our community through real support for student clubs”

·       10/22/2018, 12 pm - 10/24/2018, 12 pm: Fall 2018 AUSG voting begins and ends

·       10/22/2018: Andrew and Rogers create “Vote NO on the Activity Fee Referendum” event on Facebook lasting for the duration of referendum voting

·       10/23/2018: The Blackprint posts an article about Thomas Kenna instructing AUSG members to report The Eagle article as “fake news or hate speech or whatever you want to call it”

-Kenna also claims that The Eagle intentionally delayed publishing his article in order to edit their own editorial in response

·       10/24/2018, around 12 pm: AWOL posts a commentary about Kenna’s attempts to silence student media

-They argue that student media has a right to report on this issue and not be afraid of offending AUSG on issues regarding them

-They make a connection to the national conversation about discrediting journalists and the danger of weaponizing phrases such as fake news’ and ‘hate speech’

-They updated their Facebook banner to say “bringing critical journalism to AU since 2008”

·       10/24/2018, 12 pm: AUSG Student Activity Fee referendum fails by a margin of 74% to 26%

[Originally published on October 29, 2018.]