Activity Fees to Rise from 2018

By Sasha Ramani, MPP 2018

Beginning in the 2018 academic year, student activity fees will be raised from their current level of $175 to $230/year. The decision was jointly made and endorsed by the Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG), Melissa Wojciechowski (Senior Director of Student Services) and Dean Karen Jackson-Weaver (Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs & Student Affairs). The timing indicates that the fees will not be paid by graduating students or by current students enrolled in 2-year degree programs.

Activity fees, which fund 103 PICs, Caucuses, Conferences and Journals, in addition to Quorum Calls, Class Events, Activities, and Committee endeavors, have not been adjusted since 2009. Consistent HUDS price increases of 2-4% and similar cost increases across Harvard for venues and other bookings have resulted in activity fees losing 21% of their purchasing power since 2009. Additionally, a “construction compensation” fund provided by the Faculty is expected to diminish next year as construction completes, reflecting a 12% contraction over a 2-year period.

Therefore, Kennedy School has seen events cancelled, speakers turned away, and conferences being inadequately funded. The KSSG Finance Committee encounters this on a weekly basis, and it is a disservice to our school. Students frequently lament the insufficient food and drink at Quorum Call, but the cost of hosting Quorum Calls has risen by 20% this year alone. This resolution is essential to prevent further deterioration to the academic, professional, and social environment that the KSSG fosters at HKS.

Before Spring Break, the KSSG passed a resolution to raise activity fees to $220/year from the 2017 academic year. This resolution, as well as an amendment to add a 3% annual inflation adjustment beginning in the 2018 academic year, received broad support from the 42 voting members of the student government. Raising activity fees to $220 was supported by 34 members and opposed by 4 (89% in favor), while the inflation adjustment was supported by 28 members and opposed by 8 (78% in favor). The $220 fees were chosen to approximately match the purchasing power attained during the 2009 resolution, and 3% was chosen to approximately match the annual price increases occurring at HUDS and across Harvard.

However, implementation timelines and an upcoming rise in student health fees precluded the resolution from taking effect from the 2017 academic year. Therefore, the resolution will be enacted for the 2018 academic year at the rate of $230/year, and 2017 fees will remain at $175/year. The 2017 KSSG budget will be supplemented with faculty contributions intended to compensate for rising costs across Harvard.

The KSSG was keen to prevent any financial hardship that raising activity fees would cause on the student population, and has consulted closely with Melissa Wojciechowski and Dean Karen Jackson-Weaver. Dean Weaver strongly supported the resolution, mentioning that it was “a tremendous asset.” She added that “the completion of construction will provide higher-profile opportunities for students to engage. It would be wise to ensure that adequate funding is in place.”

This resolution is an important step towards stemming the losses that have plagued the KSSG from 2009. A well-funded student government serves students and alumni alike by supporting events to bring the HKS community together, supporting student organizations to intellectually challenge and stimulate our students, and supporting conferences to promote networking, education, and professional development. The KSSG and Student Services look forward to providing all HKS students with new and greater opportunities for growth and engagement.

To view the KSSG Resolution and supporting documents: http://bit.ly/2nWhnTz

This resolution was drafted and presented by Sasha Ramani (VP of Finance). Subsequent meetings with Melissa Wojciechowski and Dean Karen Jackson-Weaver were conducted by Arohi Sharma (President), Sasha Ramani (VP of Finance), and Sara Egozi (VP of Activities)