The 411 On Your Student Activity Fee

Published on Sep 08, 2015

By Jacyln Jermyn ('16)

Did you know a student activities fee, $100 each semester for full time students and $50 for part time students, is automatically calculated into the cost of enrollment? The fee is calculated to encourage participation in school-sanctioned clubs and groups and to help fund events thought up and planned by students just like you.

According to the Student Organizations and Leadership Office, its mission is to help facilitate student leadership development, as well as “create quality learning experiences outside of the classroom that build engagement and connection to the life and culture of Columbia College Chicago and the immediate and global community.”

The Student Organization Council, or SOC, functions as the umbrella group for all student organizations and is responsible for distributing student activity funds. Organizations go through a proposal process in order to claim funding, assuring that the money is being used effectively to meet the needs of each individual community.

There are currently over 70 student organizations officially recognized by the college. Organizations will have until October 16th to register or re-register for recognition for the fall semester, according to Sarah Shaaban, director of Student Activities and Leadership.

One of these groups is the Student Government Association. Housed in The Loft at 916 S. Wabash, the SGA is a group of elected student representatives that serve as a liaison between students and the faculty, staff, and administration. 

“We spearhead student initiatives,” says current SGA President Jerel Ballard.

According to Ballard, within SGA, each academic department is represented by a senator. Each senator is allotted a portion of the group’s budget, some of that budget comes from the Student Activity Fee, and that is used to fund some of the needs of that department based on the needs of the students.

“Last year our Dance Senator hosted forums within her department and found out that what those students really wanted to see were more ballet bars,” says Ballard. “She then used her portion of the SGA funding to get those ballet bars.”

In a similar fashion, the Audio Arts and Acoustics department received new computers and software for their tutoring program and the TV department got a portable stage.

The funding allocated for SGA also goes towards campus events like Pizza with the President and an ice cream social meet-and-greet with the potential new members of the group.

“We use our portion of the funding to make sure student’s voices are being heard,” says Ballard.

Other groups may choose to use funding towards bigger, school-wide events. Events like the Columbia Geek Culture convention, hosted by the Muggles Association of Columbia or Black Out, hosted by the Black Student Union, are all supported by initial funding from the Student Activities Fee.

“That’s why when you go to a lot of those events, there’s usually not a charge other than a suggested donation,” says Shaaban. “Students have already supported the event because of the Student Activities Fee.”

Think you have a great idea for a club or an event? Then it’s time to get involved and make sure your ideas are heard!