Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) unanimously passed one resolution Tuesday night and introduced another.
ASG passed a resolution encouraging the United States Congress to pass the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act, which would allow donations to non-university not-for-profit housing entities such as Greek organizations to become tax-deductible. Under the current system, donations to Miami and its academic programs are tax-exempt, while donations to Greek organizations are not, leading to what many consider an unfair lack of funding for Greek life.
“I think now all alumni donations can only be used for educational programming,” Student Body Vice President Tim Hogan said. “I think (the passage of this bill) would really make fund-raising a lot easier.”
Many other senators involved in Greek life shared similar concerns.
“We’ve been having trouble trying to get alumni donations,” senator Tom Kirkham said. “Those of (us) who are in Greek organizations know how important this can be.”
According to Student Body President Heath Ingram, this bill is not new to Congress. It has been introduced many times over the past 20 years without ever passing.
Amy Davenport, a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting about the bill and her efforts to lobby for it. She addressed a question from senator Matt Frazier about whether the bill has not been passed before because it has had to depend on the success of another bill in order to go into effect.
“The bill can’t go through on its own,” Davenport said. “It’s all the politics of Capitol Hill that has kept this from getting passed in the past. We have so much support on this bill, it’s just a matter of getting it moving.”
According to Davenport, passage of the bill would cost $148 million over 10 years, a number she emphasized as minuscule in terms of the national budget.
According to Ingram, Republican representatives in Congress want to rewrite the national tax code soon, so the issue of this resolution has become pressing.
“I think this needs to be passed tonight,” Ingram said.
In an unusual move, the resolution passed unanimously in the very same meeting in which it was introduced. Usually, ASG resolutions are introduced in one meeting and voted on in the next.
“This is a really big feat to undertake and to tell alumni that their tax dollars are tax exempt,” Frazier said. “I support it.”
ASG also introduced another resolution Tuesday night, encouraging the development of first and second-year programming that would seek to educate students about the traditions of Miami and the university’s history.
Such a resolution, according to Ingram and its other authors, would instill a strong sense of pride in the student body for the institution and have long-lasting effects as students graduate and become alumni and consider donating back to the university. According to the bill’s authors, many schools Miami compares itself to, such as Princeton University, have already pursued similar programs to compensate for lost revenue.
According to the proposed resolution, institutional pride would remain the highest priority.
The resolution will be voted on at ASG’s next meeting, April 3.