Many areas of student life have suffered due to a small budget.
Student led organizations and initiatives are being forced to work with restrictive budgets due to low enrollment numbers.
According to the University of Washington website, the “Service and Activities Fee” covers RSO’s, student programs, and activities on campus. With lower enrollment numbers, these programs receive smaller budgets.
Small budgets have impacted many areas of campus life, including ASUWT’s ability to operate and support students.
Because of funding difficulties, ASUWT has struggled to complete initiatives such as putting menstrual products in campus bathrooms and providing campus safety. A brief overview of the 2022-2023 ASUWT initiatives reveals that funding prevented all proposed initiatives
When student fees support student life activities, those who enroll on a down year are the ones who pay the price. This vicious cycle only discourages future enrollment.
“In a sense, it requires an investment,” said ASUWT President Holly Wetzel. “If you want students to stay and keep enrolling, you need to give them a reason to stay.”
Despite this need for investment by the University, students are not supported.
In a 2022-2023 school year survey, access to affordable food was a primary concern for student. Yet entering the new year, there remains a lack of food options for students who need to eat lunch on a budget.
The Pantry, loacted in the Dougan building, offers free food for students, but as President Wetzel notes, is often wiped out as soon as it is restocked. This, combined with the lack of affordable food options, such as a cafeteria or food trucks, leaves students with little to no choices.
“It’s one thing to have a ‘poor college experience’,” said President Wetzel. “It’s another when you’re skipping meals altogether.”
While food options are not directly funded by student fees, ASUWT, who represent the student needs, is. With low funding, the organization has fewer hours and resources to fight for the basic needs of students.
To bridge the gap created by low enrollment numbers, President Wetzel has urged students to express their needs directly to the state policy makers.
“We get money from the legislature and from lobbying,” said President Wetzel. “If there is no student input that the lawmakers can see, they are going to send money to schools with a louder student presence.”
Students have the opportunity to voice their needs and concerns to the state legislature at events such as Huskies on the Hill.
Regardless, the baseline budget is still determined by student enrollment numbers. Because of this, it is important that student leaders and school administrators takes steps to invite higher enrollment numbers, such as campus events and investing into the student body.
“Unfortunately, it’s either first come first serve or we try to spread the money thin,” said ASUWT Director of University Affairs Roland Heyne in a follow up interview.
The themes are clear. Student life is supported by students who enroll. But with low enrollment comes a lower budget, and in turn it is us on campus who pay the price.