The University of South Dakota student population voted ‘yes’ to a three-year increase in General Activity Fees, and elected a new Student Government Association president and vice president Wednesday.
In a one-team race, new SGA President Sami Zoss and Vice President Michael Buchanan went on a ballot that simply asked students ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
Zoss said she is ready to see what new direction she and Buchanan can take SGA.
“There’s always a huge learning curve when you’re taking over a new position,” Zoss said. “First thing is we’re going to look to the transition stuff, and then we’re going to look toward the Senate. We’ll have a lot of fresh names on the ballot.”
The GAF increase sparked more campus opinions, both for and against the increase. The vote has implications for student organizations, athletics and Student Services-related programming.
“There are a lot of areas (on campus) that have been underfunded or need more funding for the last few years,” Buchanan said. “This will help those areas catch up, get ahead and hopefully move campus forward.”
The student vote does not mean the GAF increase is 100 percent official. The proposal must be signed by USD President Jim Abbott and approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents.
The GAF fund increase would go into effect in the upcoming fall semester and is expected to generate more than $700,000. The increase would start at $4.50 per credit hour and be raised for the next three years until it caps at $13.50 per credit hour.
The GAF increase especially targets a need for funding in the university’s athletic department, which was rated last in the Summit League and Missouri Valley conference’s for funding.
Final vote tallies for the SGA and GAF election were not available Wednesday night. Votes will be confirmed by the university’s Information Technology department in the next few days, said Lindsay Sparks, director of transitions and student programming at Student Services.
(Photo: Junior Sami Zoss and sophomore Michael Buchanan celebrate the announcement of their election win March 4 in the Muenster University Center Pit Lounge. Nathan Ellenbecker / The Volante)