The Student Senate has passed a measure to raise prices of discounted movie tickets from $5 to $6 next year if enrollment drops three percent or more.
Every Tuesday, the discounted tickets can be purchased at the Student Activities office. They are bought from Regal Cinemas in bulk and then sold to students at an additional discount. Regal has increased the prices of the passes over time to $8.75 from the original $6 when the program started. This, in turn, means increasing costs to the Student Activities budget.
The Student Activities budget will also be strained by a $12,500 increase for shared sponsorship of the CDTA free ridership.
This all comes at a time when decreasing enrollment is causing a decline in revenue for Student Activities, which is funded by the fee paid by students attending Hudson Valley.
The Senate was hesitant to raise prices of movie tickets and debated the issue over the course of a couple weeks. A compromise, proposed by senator Adam Day, was reached: prices would only be raised if enrollment drops significantly.
Day believes that the discounted movie tickets are an important service offered by Student Activities. “We really feel that it’s a great deal for the students. If they don’t want anything else, they take advantage of this,” he said.
At the same time, Day and the rest of the Senate felt obligated to make sure that the Student Activities budget doesn’t suffer from the increasing costs of the price of the free movie passes and the CDTA program.
“We’re trying to set it up so it’s ready if this happens,” said Day, referring to a significant decline in enrollment and revenue.
The Senate had considered raising the prices regardless of enrollment figures, but there was a lot of opposition. Senate president Grace Harrison said, “I think it is important that we keep the price of movie tickets affordable for students.”
They were able to rework the 2015-16 Student Activities budget, which totals over $800,000, by decreasing funding in other areas so that it was balanced without added movie ticket revenue. Annual events such as Springfest, Pumpkin Palooza, and New Student Orientation will sees decreased funding next year by $750-$1,000 each.
Enrollment has been declining steadily at Hudson Valley in recent years. This year’s fall headcount of 12,252 is down 12.6 percent from fall 2010, when 14,011 students were enrolled. The trend is also accelerating, with the drop of 4.9 percent from 2013 to 2014 being the largest decrease since enrollment started going down.
Despite the decline in students and revenue from their fees, many at the college believe that paying an increase for free CDTA ridership is worth it. The contract fee will continue to increase in each of the the next two years, from $225,000 next year to $275,000 in 2016-17 and $310,000 in 2017-18. The total cost is split by the college, which pays $125,000; the Faculty Student Association, which pays $50,000; and the Student Senate, which pays the remaining $50,000.
FSA director Ann Carozza believes the CDTA free ridership helps students beyond just getting back and forth for classes. “It allows them to do personal things. That helps the students stay in school and live and so on. I think it’s a very positive thing.”
Carozza knew that the Student Activities budget would be stressed this year and that the movie tickets were a much bigger cost than they used to be, and pointed out that raising prices was an option. While the Student Activities office is run by the FSA, they have no control over how the Student Senate spends the money in their budget.
The FSA’s budget is also affected by decreasing enrollment, and Carozza said that money is tight all over the college.
“It’s a matter of budgeting. It’s a matter of priorities,” said Carozza.