News in Brief

By CAMPUS STAFF

SGA Passes Financial Aid Bill 

The Off Campus Food Financial Aid Program (OFFAP) bill passed with senator Stephanie Andrews ’18 abstaining [14-0-1] in a Student Government Association (SGA) vote on Sunday. The OFFAP will cover the cost of food for students on financial aid while they are away from campus on trips with student clubs and organizations. The program is expected to cost $17,000 annually and will be reevaluated after a year of operation.

When asked about the status of the budget allocation for the program, treasurer and chair of the finance committee Peter Dykeman-Bermingham stated that it would not be possible to draw from the OFFAP’s allocated funds for use for anything other than the program itself.

SGA members discussed the scope of the financial aid brackets the program would serve and the food expense per diem that the program would support, ultimately deciding that the program would provide a per diem of $15 to all financial aid recipients. – Eric Kapner

CC Passes Inclusive Bathroom Resolution

Community Council voted unanimously to pass an inclusive bathroom recommendation on Monday.

The recommendation suggests that, in all existing buildings on campus, the signage on single stall bathrooms should be changed to be gender inclusive, and that at least one “menstrual friendly” bathroom should house a free tampon dispenser.

The recommendation calls for an all-gender and “menstrual friendly” bathroom on every floor with restrooms in every new public building built on campus. It also calls for a disability accessible bathroom in every new building, with a consideration for disability accessible showers available within close proximity to all campus buildings.

The changes will be implemented in three stages. They will be applied to the planning of any new buildings, implemented when renovations are done in existing buildings and taken into account when maintenance is done on existing building on campus.

The recommendation is intended to increase bathroom access for community members with disabilities and for people of all gender identities on campus. The recommendation aims to address issues such as ableism, classism, gender identity and expression, health, menstrual equality and sexism on campus.

The recommendation also suggests the preparation of two studies which will help to improve accessibility for those with disabilities on campus and will consider similar reforms as the ones listed above to all ancillary properties of the colleges. – Caroline Kapp

President Signs Letter Seeking Endowment Tax Repeal  

President Laurie Patton signed a letter on Mar. 7 asking for the repeal of a provision in the 2017 tax act that places a 1.4% excise tax on endowments of private colleges and universities exceeding $500,000 per student with more than 500 students. The letter was sent to Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate by 49 presidents of institutions including Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Williams College and others.

Patton took a stand with other school leaders even though the college would not currently have to pay the tax, as its endowment is currently below the $500,000 per student line.

The letter states that the tax will reduce the capacity for endowments to increase access, affordability and opportunities for success for students in higher education institutions across the nation.  On these grounds, it urges lawmakers to re-evaluate this section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts.

The letter works to address the misconception that endowments are left in long-term reserves and unused. It highlights instead how critical endowments are to the functioning of colleges and universities, in some cases providing almost half of annual revenues.

The letter makes clear that the tax will be hurting students above anyone else.

“Students are the leading beneficiary of these resources with each of us committed to significant efforts to enhance affordability,” it said. “Yet this tax will not address the cost of college or student indebtedness, as some have tried to suggest. Instead, it will constrain the resources available to the very institutions that lead the nation in reducing, if not eliminating, the costs for low- and middle-income students, and will impede the efforts of other institutions striving to grow their endowments for this very purpose.” – Catherine Pollack

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