Increase in Student Activity Fee moves to ballot after passing ASNMU vote

A $13.88 increase would raise the fee to $51, allowing student organizations to raise wages and hold more events.

Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU) has recently agreed to add an increase for the Student Activity Fee to the upcoming ballot. Referendum 1, which includes the increased fee, will be available on the ballot for all students to vote from April 10, 2024. Students will receive an email and be able to vote on it until April 12, 2024 at 5 p.m.

ASNMU has decided on a $13.88 increase to the fee, which would be raised to $51 per semester if passed. The fee is currently $37.12 per semester. 

“We understand that $13 is a lot to ask, but we chose that number because the new fee of $51 is still pretty low compared to other institutions in the state of Michigan,”  ASNMU President Gwen Feamster said.

This fee was last voted on in 2022 and did not pass in a tied decision. The Student Activity Fee currently supports six student organizations, including The North Wind, Northern Arts and Entertainment (NAE), Northern Michigan Artist Discovery (NOMAD), Special Events Committee and Campus Cinema. 

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“We chose to put [the Student Activity Fee] on [the ballot] because the student organizations were telling us that they did not have money to function, so we are trying to give them what they need,” Feamster said.

This fee helps student organizations to hold events, run their operations, pay their employees and more. For example, the North Wind uses its allocation to pay its writers and finance its online publishing. 

“I do not think students know that pays for the big things. People want big concerts and cool speakers like John Green, but we simply do not have the money for that,” Feamster said. “The only way that we will have the money for that is if the fee goes up.”

To better inform students about the Student Activity fee and what it pays for, ASNMU is implementing new efforts this election year.

“We are really just trying to inform the general public. All of the major student organizations are meeting to discuss how they can help advertise it. It is really a big group effort, whereas last time it was kind of quiet,” Feamster said. 

Feamster emphasized that while students would be paying more for the Student Activity Fee, the increased fee would only benefit them.

“The fee comes right back to us. You might as well pick where it goes and opt to have it go towards student organizations which almost every student benefits from in some way, shape or form,” Feamster said. 

In addition to funding events, the Student Activity also pays students’ wages across campus.

“This is an opportunity to not only fund student organizations but also to raise wages. I think we talk a lot as students about how we want better wages and this is one thing that students have the power to do,” Feamster said.

Students at Northern currently pay significantly less for their student activities compared to students at Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State University. 

Feamster says if the increased fee were to pass, it would allow for continued Northern traditions and create the possibility of new ones.

“If it passes, it is going to make student life more interesting. It is going to add more events, get bigger names to campus, offer more events, and make sure we can still do homecoming things because homecoming is paid through that fee,” Feamster said.

ASNMU, along with the other student organizations, will be hosting tabling events, flyers and social media content to promote and increase students’ knowledge about the Student Activity Fee in the coming weeks. 

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