Although controversial director Michael Moore’s speech has come and gone, many Utah Valley State College students are still feeling the effects of their student government’s decision to invite the speaker to the college last month.
Even though many students supported the decision, several others said they were concerned about the source of the funds that paid for Moore’s visit: student activity fees.
For the many students around the state who are concerned about the use of these fees, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, is drafting a bill to limit how Utah’s colleges and universities use their student activity fees.
UVSC student leaders invited Moore to speak at the college for a bill of $62,000 ($35,000 after ticket sales), a price that included his speaking fee, travel costs and security expenses.
“Students have lodged their complaints about paying for issues they don’t support or about celebrations they don’t want to pay for,” he said.
Although Stephenson made the request before the Moore incident, he said it would specifically address the use of the student fees for speakers.
“The question is: ‘where do you draw the line?'” he said. “What are the parameters for choosing speakers?”
Stephenson said he has received suggestions for the development of a “pay-to-play” concept that will make an activity fee optional for those who want to have an open ticket to all activities. Those students who do not pay the activity fee can pay for individual events if they choose, he said.
Currently, each student pays $400 in activity fees at UVSC, which gives the student government a total of $300,000.
Even though Stephenson has received support for the bill from other legislators, he said a statewide requirement is one of the last things he wants to accomplish.
“If students are able to have their say at the local level, then I don’t think the legislature should interject its own opinion,” he said.
Jim Bassi, UVSC student body president who invited Moore to speak, agrees that the issue should be decided on an institutional basis. Although he isn’t fully aware of the specifics behind the bill, he doesn’t think there needs to be a change in how student fees are used, he said.
Derek Hall, UVSC spokesperson, said although there has never been much concern over the issue in the past, he thinks there will be more discussion regarding how student fees are spent the next time student government leaders are elected.
“We have a tradition of letting our students do it, and we believe that it is a good learning process for them,” he said. “They’ve been good stewards over their budget.”
Currently, student fees are used for intramural sports, service projects, promotional events and student leadership speakers at the college.
In the next month, Stephenson said he will continue to do research on the issue and to seek input from students before making a final decision.
If he decides to propose the bill, it will be completed by the middle of January.