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Student fees increase for 2007-08 academic year

March 1, 2007

According to the minutes from the Feb. 13 Student Senate meeting, it had been previously resolved to implement the fee increases starting with the 2006-07 academic year.

However, other increases led Senate to push them back by one year.

Segregated University fees are defined as fairly small amounts of money paid along with students’ tuition. These fees allow students free admission to events later in the semester, such as concerts, films and sporting events.

The allocation of these funds to student organizations is a fairly straightforward process.  Student organizations at UW-River Falls must first submit a request and the budget requests are then submitted to the related committee for review. The Diversity Awareness Committee and the Recreational Activities Committee, as well as other similar committees, look over the budgets and cut out the things student money is unable to fund, following UW System-recognized guidelines.

According to Policy Paper 20, which universities in the UW System must follow, committees cannot provide money to student organizations to fund such things as gifts, contributions, donations or monetary awards to UW faculty or staff.

After making needed adjustments, the committees then allocate funds out of their own budgets to student organizations.

Natalie Hagberg, chair of the Leadership Programming and Development Board (LDPB), is familiar with the fund allocation process, as she was a committee member for several years before becoming chair.

Hagberg said that because committees have to fund their own programming on top of student organizations, cuts are made very carefully and adhere tightly to Policy Paper 20.

“Each organization has different needs and there’s not really enough money to [completely] meet everyone’s request,” Hagberg said. “They try to make cuts equal across the board.”

Hagberg said there are additional factors beyond organizational need that influence funding. Often, funding requests come in too late to go to the committees in time. This means some student organizations go without University funding.

Amanda DeCesaro, president of Campus Crusade for Christ, said in an e-mail that last year, the organization’s budget request didn’t get put in on time, and it almost had dire consequences for the group.

“Our participation numbers were hurting last year and we almost became a glorified small group of friends that met once a week,” DeCesaro said. “This year with funding we were able to send people to our fall retreat, have a V-Day party and do a rose giveaway.”

Tony Anderson, president of the Black Student Union, said the amount of money in the organization’s budget for this year was smaller than last, but it was not due to the Diversity Awareness Committee cutting funding. Instead, he said BSU’s smaller budget was their own responsibility.

“[The budget] is based on different activities you do during the previous year and in order to continue to get funding, you must do the activities for the year,” Anderson said. “The budget was based on what money BSU had in its account. So in essence, we have to work hard and stay in a reasonable budget so we can do all the events we plan for.”

Hagberg said perhaps the biggest reason for recent differences in student organization funding is the sheer number of student organizations on campus.

“As of now, we have 156 recognized student orgs on campus. That’s a lot more than past years,” Hagberg said. “It’s not that we have less money; it’s that we have less money to go around.”

Jenna Wegner, president of the Dairy Club, explained via e-mail that the denial of funding for the club didn’t have any effect on planned activities, as they depend more on funds from members than from the University.

“We’re fortunate to have enough members who are willing to pay the price to participate in desired activities,” she said.

Students at UW-Platteville, a campus fairly similar to UWRF, pay $94 per year. UWRF students paid an average of $61.50 this year. Even with a $3 increase next year, students will still pay 31 percent less than students at UW-Platteville. Hagberg said if students continue to want bigger and better things, they should expect the cost to keep pace.

“We try to be very smart with student’s money,” Hagberg said. “We want to make their dollar go as far as we can while still making it worth it.”