The University of Maryland SGA passed bills Wednesday to support raising the student activities fee and to fund reproductive health and gender affirming care initiatives.

Last month, this university’s Student Government Association passed a bill that will add a referendum question to their upcoming election ballot that asks if students support raising the student activities fee. If a majority of students vote in favor of the referendum, the student activities fee will be raised $3 or $6 dollars, depending on students’ part or full-time statuses. The bill passed Wednesday indicates SGA support for the fee increases.

The 2023-24 student activities fee is $42.50 for full-time students and $21 for part-time students. The revenue from the fee increase would assist in funding student groups, according to SGA speaker of the legislature Eliav Hamburger. The SGA has recently been forced to reduce student groups’ funding as a result of inflation and COVID-19 surplus funding being exhausted, Hamburger said.

“You should vote yes on the referendum because together we can make sure that all clubs are able to provide programming and events for all of their students,” Hamburger, a junior computer engineering major, said. “Clubs and student orgs are pretty much the heart of what student activities are on this campus and the heart of what campus life really looks like.”

Reese Artero, SGA’s off-campus neighboring representative, also sponsored multiple bills that passed Wednesday, which included funding for reproductive health and gender-affirming care initiatives.

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Artero, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, plans to work with this university’s LGBTQ+ Equity Center to provide students with free chest binders, TransTape and tucking underwear. The initiative would also provide informational pamphlets explaining best practices for the products, Artero said.

“Providing gender affirming access and care is incredibly important to sustain positive mental health and accessibility to the necessary healthcare resources,” Muntaha Haq, the SGA’s diversity and inclusion committee director and a senior international business major, said.

The SGA previously provided gender-affirming garments to 50 students in the spring 2023 semester through a partnership with the University Health Center and the LGBTQ+ Equity Center.

Another bill Artero sponsored would fund free pregnancy tests for the next two years, she said.

The initiative would be a collaboration between the SGA, University Health Center and Health and Promotional Wellness Services. The SGA has allocated more than $5,000 for the new initiative to begin next semester.

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Artero said the program would work similar to the SGA’s free emergency contraception initiative where students swipe their university IDs in exchange for the product.

The cost of pregnancy tests at most drug stores is a financial burden to students that they should not have to sustain during their academic careers, Artero added.

“It’s extremely important to give people free access to reproductive health products and make sure that they can prepare themselves as well,” Artero said. “As students, pregnancy is something that would be very impactful to their academics and their professional development.”