By Megan Flanagan and Jenna Ballek
The Student Government Board has voted unanimously to support increasing the student activity fee by $10. They also discussed student reactions to the new mask policy and proposed further easing the requirements on campus.
The student activity fee, currently $178 per semester for full-time students, is expected to become $188 starting next year. For part-time students, the current fee of $14.83 per credit hour would become approximately $15.66 per credit hour.
The proposal, which was passed during the board’s March 22 meeting, needs approval from Kutztown University Student Services Inc. (KUSSI) and KU President Kenneth Hawkinson.
“A student activity fee increase is not uncommon with the continued trend of decreased enrollment, cost inflation, and other outside factors that impact our university,” SGB President Kayla Sherry said at the meeting. “The $10 student activity fee increase will ensure our student organizations have the necessary funding they need to be successful.”
Parliamentarian Makayla Roccia said, “Last year was one of the only years the student activity fee did not increase, and even with the increase, Kutztown University is still one of the lowest Student Activity Fees in the PASSHE system.”
One student interviewed said she thought the increase made sense.
“I think the reason that they gave is fair,” said KU sophomore Rebekah Nerius. “It’s only 10 more dollars.”
But Nerius also added that she wished the vote had been better publicized: “I do think they should be more public about this because I didn’t know about this at all.”
If KUSSI approves the change, it would then go to Hawkinson for final approval.
The board also discussed both positive and negative feedback from students on the university’s revised mask policy; it currently only requires masks in classrooms, labs, the KU Health Center, and athletic training rooms.
At the meeting, during which about half of the SGB was wearing masks, some board members said they had spoken with students who want mask mandates completely removed. Others said they had spoken with students who wanted masking to remain required, at least in classrooms.
The board proposed making masking optional, including in classrooms, but also discussed the alternative of having masking in classrooms be at the discretion of the professor.
“Let it be up to the professors,” Roccia said. “It is their class, and they can choose.”
The board will take their feedback to the Emergency Management Team for consideration. The EMT oversees most COVID-19 related mandates and issues.
After the meeting, one KU student said he disagreed with the board’s push toward easing masking requirements and acknowledged disagreement among the student body on the issue.
“I feel like they made the assumption that people didn’t want to wear the masks anymore,” KU student Michael Trilli said. “They based this on their own observations … when there was a clear distinction between the board members not wearing masks and most of the students observing the meeting wearing masks.”