On the ballot for this semester’s elections will be a proposal to increase the Student Activity Fee (SAF) from $62.50 to $100 a semester. This increase will add $885,500 to the SAF and allow organizations such as the Howard University Student Association (HUSA), the Undergraduate Student Assembly (UGSA), Royal Court, The Hilltop, school councils and ALL officially recognized student organizations who request funding to be able to receive more.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the 11th HUSA Senate’s Finance Committee (SFC) Chairman. I won’t bore you with all the details of my position, which you can find in the constitution, but my first main responsibility is the allocation of the SAF to various on campus organizations, including Royal Court, UGSA, Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), HUSA Executive and others. Their programming includes Ms. and Mr. Howard Pageants, Spirit Buses, Christmas Tree Lightings, Taste of Howard, Coronation and Springfest.
My second main responsibility is the allocation of the senate’s programming budget which allows various student organizations to receive funding from the senate. Examples of organizations that have received funding from us include Models of the Mecca (MOTM), Jewels, Inc., Caribbean Student Organization, Nigerian Student Organization, Howard University Speech and Debate Team, HU Mock Trial, Howard’s Womens’ Rugby Team and many others. I work with a committee that meets once a week to recommend funding for proposals that are submitted to us.
To say that this has been a difficult year for the SFC alone would be an understatement. Due to the ‘22-’23 school year being the first without COVID-19 restrictions, and amongst many other reasons, the SFC has seen an over 200 percent increase in funding proposals from the year prior. We’ve unfortunately had to cut back multiple events that have been held at Howard for several years prior, such as the Residency Fair, White Coat Ceremony and MOTM showcase, due to a lack of funding being available.
We believe that this trend will continue to increase as more student organizations become aware of funding available to their organizations.
I can understand many students’ concerns with increasing their bills when tuition increases have been common in the past. However, voting ‘YES’ on this bill is paramount to the student experience at Howard.
As someone who deals with requests for funding every week, student organizations have not been able to keep up with the rising costs of living, tuition and inflation and it has led to events having to be cut back or canceled due to a lack of funding. Major events like Springfest and Taste of Howard have to heavily rely on outside sponsorships and connections to fund events, which aren’t a stable source of funds and change from year to year. The SAF allocations impact every student organization on campus, and have remained stagnant since 2019. Compared to other HBCUs like Spelman, Bowie State, XULA and others, we have one of the lowest SAF.
Please join me in voting ‘YES’ for a SAF increase this semester. A successful outcome from the student body will ultimately put the decision to the Howard University Board of Trustees, who we hope will listen to the students in their desire for more robust funding.
11th HUSA Senate Finance Committee Chairman
Copy edited by Jasper Smith