ASUNM proposes fee increase to keep clubs alive

By Johanna Albright / CJ 475 Reporter
Posted Oct. 25, 2012

With tuition costs constantly on the rise and an election coming up, students may have one more vote to cast to help determine their fate. Recently the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) formed a committee to decide whether an increase in student fees is necessary to fund student clubs.

UNM clubs depend on student fees
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By Johanna Albright

Should the ASUNM student fee be raised to help clubs?

For many years the ASUNM student fee, which is included every school year, along with tuition and many other student fees, has been $20 per student. This fee is the only way university chartered clubs and organizations receive funding from the University of New Mexico (UNM). ASUNM senate and staff believe it may not be enough to cover rising costs and the growing number of student clubs.

Yvette Hall, senior accountant of the student government accounting office, said she thought club teams may soon outgrow the funds that are available through ASUNM.

"I would say that there may be a problem down the round because of increase in student clubs. Enrollment goes up, but I don't think it goes up enough to cover the current cost of things," Hall said. "Student clubs used to get support in other ways, through the community or off campus. People just don't have as much money to give now so that need for larger budgets is there."

ASUNM recently created an "ad-hoc" committee, a specially formed group of student senators, to research the issues of funding for clubs. According to ASUNM senator Issac Romero, the committee's main goal is to find out if the fee can be raised and by how much.

"They're researching what other universities are doing and then seeing how we can apply that to the needs of UNM," Romero said. "Right now it seems as though an increase is necessary. It's just about figuring out how much is necessary and what can be justified."

There are currently 373-charted organizations at UNM, 23 of which are sports clubs. Alexia Klages, UNM club tennis president, said she thinks students would vote in favor of a slight increase in the fee, if they knew it was benefitting student clubs.

"I would say the majority of enrolled students are involved in a club that gets funding from ASUNM, and I don't think anyone would mind," Klages said.

The current funding from ASUNM wasn't enough to cover some things the club tennis team needed this year, according to Klages. "This year we couldn't afford new uniforms. We were unable to buy them unless we increased our player fee to over $100 and that doesn't seem fair for a club team," Klages said.

According to the Fall 2012 Official Enrollment Report, there are 29,100 students enrolled at UNM, whereas, New Mexico State University (NMSU) has approximately 14,000 students enrolled. At NMSU there are nearly 300-chartered organizations. According to the Associated Students of NMSU (ASNMSU) senator Wesley Jackson, the student fee that funds clubs at NMSU is currently $34 and goes up every time tuition rises. Jackson said this fee covers all clubs for the most part, but ASNMSU also encourages fundraising.

The ASUNM ad-hoc committee for funding is currently working on a new bill in favor of increasing the student fee. This would involve creating or changing a UNM constitutional amendment. All university senators and students would have to vote on the proposed bill for the increase to pass.

A similar bill was proposed last year but never made it past the senate vote, according to Romero. "It didn't pass within the senate then, but it might pass (now). The reason it didn't pass before was that it wasn't a strong enough case to justify the amount that was proposed," Romero said. "If student organizations realized that this was helping them out, I don't think they would mind paying another few dollars per semester."