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ASMC strapped for cash

Students will vote on the largest student activity fee increase the school has seen in over a decade on Tuesday.

The student activity fee is currently $130, if the vote passes it will be increased to $190.

This is just the first step in a process that ASMC hopes will result in larger student funds beginning in the fall of 2007. ASMC President Carolina Salazar said that an increase in student population and clubs, the expiration of the school's Irvine grant and a lack of funds for their own executive committee brought on a serious need for more money.

"There was a lot of little changes that came with a big cash value," Salazar said.

When the school's Irvine Grant expired last year, it left many areas like the Womanist publication and heritage month events not taken care of financially. This, on top of an increasing number of Special Funding Requests, new funding for lounges and an overwhelming increase in student clubs demanded a larger budget.

"We can't afford to give clubs even half of what they ask for," Salazar said. "It's just unrealistic."

While some groups do more than others and require more money, the budget has to be equitable and there should be discretionary funds for additional events, said Dean of Students Joanna Iwata. Specifically referring to students like the Juarez Femicides Delegates and spring break volunteers in New Orleans, Iwata said if there were enough discretionary funds "maybe we'd see more things happen with that, that would take less pressure off the organizers… I've been impressed by their fundraising efforts."

The Office of the President co-sponsored heritage month events, but Salazar said, "We can't commit to her giving us that money every year."

Some students feel that the increase is worth the advantages to student life.

"If you're crying over $60 you should be crying over tuition," said junior Joy Okochi. "And if [students] vote against it, then they'll be crying for the frybread."

Other students don't see where their money is going.

"Tuition keeps going up, college gets more expensive, but I don't feel like I'm getting more benefits from more money," said senior Crystal Paras.

Regardless, if the increase is approved, most students won't be expected to pay its full amount.

"Financial aid would proportionally meet the need because it's considered part of tuition," Salazar said. "So it's not like its sixty dollars coming out of your pocket."

Director of Student Administrative Services and Financial Aid David Gin said that while the M Center will try to make up the increase, everyone's financial need is different.

"We cant cover all that increase, but we try," said Gin, who estimated about 20-30 dollars of the increase on average would be covered by aid. "The students it affects the most are students who are barely making it now."

Salazar said that while Mills is often compared to the Seven Sisters, we have a lower student body fee than any of these schools, which include Barnard, Wellesley and Mount Holyoke, "so just to put it into perspective… we're really kind of bare bones."

"Its time for them [ASMC] to reassess that whole fee structure," Iwata said. "There's only so much you can get and disburse out."

Students will be sent a link to online ballots on Tuesday and will have until Wednesday to place votes for or against the increase in fees, and to vote for next year's class councils and ASMC executive committee.

"They only thing that sucks is people who aren't going to be here are voting for it," Salazar said.

If students vote in favor of the increase, ASMC will then take their proposal to the Board of Trustees, who will give their okay to the M Center to notify students of the change for the school year beginning in fall 2007.