Student Activity fees, WAC Alerts discussed at Nov. 3 SGA meeting

By Erica Quinones

Elm Staff Writer

Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm addressed the Student Government Association Senate at their Tuesday, Nov. 3 meeting to discuss Student Activity fees and the WAC Alerts program.

The Student Activity fee is one of several charges labeled under the “Fees” title on students’ bills. Student Activities, however, is a broad term for activities outside the classroom. All students pay charges pertaining to student health programs, while other programs have fees that are more specifically targeted. Students do not pay the study abroad fee unless they are studying abroad, for example, and only freshmen pay the first-year orientation fee.

The funding is divided among various programs so that the SGA receives 33 percent of the budget for clubs and other organizations, Birthday Ball receives 6.5 percent, The Elm receives 4.6 percent, Safe Ride receives 3.2 percent, the concert series receives 1.1 percent, and the remaining 51.6 percent goes to “General Operating” fees.

The final 51.6 percent, Feyerherm said, is the more “controversial” distribution. The Fall 2018 Student Activities fees average at 383 dollars per student, totaling 510,922 dollars. That means approximately 263,636 dollars from these fees go toward the “General Operating” section.

To address questions about those funds, Feyerherm explained the “General Operating” heading. The money is allocated to several programs including the Student Events Board; the Student Engagement Office; the shuttle program; the Intercultural Affairs Office; programming by the Student Affairs Office; the Prevention Education and Advocacy program; Fall Family Weekend; professional and student salaries in the above areas; Community Service; Greek Life; and Title IX education, training, and software.

The designated funds do not cover the full price of the programs’ operations nor do they cover departments like Public Safety. The percentages allocated are also not a set fraction of the Student Activities fees, since the designated allotments are budgeted annually. This semester saw a 4 percent decrease in allocated funds for SGA and an increase in funding towards Safe Ride.

Because the budget is flexible and depends on student population during each semester, Feyerherm said she will “come back to you early in the [Spring] semester and give you another presentation with a little more detail about the budget.”

The second issue Feyerherm discussed was WAC Alerts, which experienced problems that were recently brought to her attention. According to the Washington College website, “WAC Alerts is the College’s self-service, web-based, emergency notification system that sends instant alerts to registered users.”

While many students’ accounts alerted them of the state of emergency in Tawes Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 10, others did not. This was because some students’ accounts deactivated without notifying their owners. The cause of this problem and the total number of accounts deactivated are unknown.

To assure that students are aware of and receiving directions during possible emergencies on campus, Feyerherm asked students to check their accounts. This can be done by selecting the WAC Alerts link on Public Safety’s “Emergency Communications” page. After entering their WC log-in information, students may edit or activate accounts. At the top of the page, there will be a green box detailing their account’s current state. If it is active, it includes a deactivation date.

After this experience with WAC Alerts, Feyerherm says that WC is “exploring alternative platforms or if this one can be improved.” For the time being, an email will be sent to students with the information regarding WAC Alerts presented above.

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