After passing by a close campus wide vote of 57 to 56, a new charity program has evoked controversy and enthusiasm among students.
Fix it with Five, led by Katherine Hackett and Eric Larkin, proposes to take $5 from the $265 student activity fee to put towards a separate account. After gathering 350 signatures of interested students, Hackett and Larkin attended three meetings with the Student Association to present and discuss the language of the program. The amendment was passed on March 9.
Larkin and Hackett are working on forming a 12-person committee to be the “core” of the program, consisting of eight students and four faculty members. Larkin said the program will begin full operation in the coming fall semester.
Fix it with Five is currently looking for students to apply for the core team.
(Photo by Kayla Sibilia)
All students will be invited to interact with the committee regarding potential uses of funds, Larkin said.
“This is what the students voted for,” Larkin said. “(The money’s use) is not my decision.”
Hackett said that the program is open for various forms of charity, which includes events that can benefit students.
“We want as many ideas as people have,” Hackett said.
Both sides of the table
Feedback for the program has been mixed. S.A. president Steve O’Neil approves of the program, but he disagrees with deducting from the student activities fee.
“It’s a great program,” O’Neil said, “but to take $5 from every students activity fee seems like the wrong way to achieve their goals.”
O’Neil explained that the $5,000 usually allocated for charity out of the S.A. Budget will turn into roughly $10,000 to be used for Fix It With Five. He said this will result in reduced funding for clubs
O’Neil proposed Fix It With Five work within the default $5000. He said that $10,000 is too much to give to a program in its early stages, considering the poor economy.
“It’s more money than any second year club is allowed,” he said.
Sophomore Tully LaBelle-Hamer became aware of “Fix It With Five” after reading an article in The Defender, he said.
He was opposed to the amount of money the program intended to use and attended student association meetings. He recalled an alternative method of funding that would add an optional $5 to tuition payment, which he believes is a fair compromise, he said.
“It solves problems on both sides of the table,” LaBelle-Hamer said.
Larkin said the original idea was for students to “give out of pocket.” However, he said it would be impossible to reach every student. The next idea was to increase tuition by $5, he said, but Nancy Brock, vice president of finances, said an increase would be impossible. Brock directed Larkin to the Student Association to hear the idea.
Students on the Fix it with Five committee will choose where the student money goes each year.
(Photo by Kayla Sibilia)
Larkin sees economic turbulence as a time to donate more to the community, he said.
“With how fortunate we are, it’s important to give,” Larkin said.
Hackett said Fix It With Five should be a way to get all students involved.
“It’s all students’ money,” Hackett said. “Not everything that happens (in clubs) is students’ choice.”
Larkin added that Fix It With Five would make students aware of how funds are allocated.
“If they don’t like where money is going, at least they know where it’s going,” Larkin said.
The honest opinion
O’Neil expressed concern of the relatively small representation of the student body present at the meetings. Although he is not surprised by the numbers, he thinks the vote should have been done online.
“We’re not getting the honest opinion,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil acknowledged that some students were not even aware of the program.
“I’ve heard people were not aware,” O’Neil said, “but I wonder what needs to be done to get people aware.”
Hackett said she does not wish to antagonize the S.A. with Fix It With Five’s funding.
“We’re not working against the Student Association, we’re working with the Student Association,” she said.
Hackett and Larkin expressed hope that Fix It With Five will appeal to other schools in the future.
Hackett says she appreciates both the positive and negative feedback generated in the wake of the program’s voting.
“I think it’s good to be critiqued and defended,” Hackett said. “Creating a buzz is the best thing you can do.”