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Segregated fees increase in response to campus-wide department needs

March 2, 2012

Students may see an increase in their segregated (seg) fees for the 2012-2013 academic year in response to the passage of four out of seven motions brought before the Student Senate.

Student seg fees as defined by Student Affairs are “charges, in addition to instructional fees, assessed to all students for services, programs, and facilities that support the mission of UW-River Falls.”

Most of the increases asked for by all of the different departments were in response to cutbacks that had to be made in budgets because of loss of General Purpose Revenue (GPR) funding. Many people commented that if it wasn’t for the hard economic times, they might not have asked for an increase.

The proposed increases had to first be discussed at the small committee level and were then brought before the Facilities and Fees Board for recommendation to the Senate. The final decision on all proposed increases will be made by the Chancellor regardless of whether they were passed or failed at the Senate level.

Of no surprise to the Senate was the high attendance of guests at the meeting. More than 50 people gathered in support of their corresponding programs or departments.

“I had heard before the meeting from people that they expected to have support,” explained Vice President Carlan Strand. “The people who did show up were obviously passionate.”

The majority of the guests at the meeting were there to support UWRF Athletics. The motion to increase Athletics’ seg fee by $2.50 was passed by the Senate with a vote of 20-2.

The proposed fee increases by the Creative Hours in Learning Development (CHILD) Center, Student Health, and Career Services were the other three motions that passed. Both Student Health and the CHILD Center asked for a $5 increase and Career Services a $38 increase.

The fee increase for Career Services includes the creation of a committee of students to oversee this fee. The Senate determined that this was a good proposal as it encourages student involvement and gives students a voice in how their money is spent.

“As a peer advisor for Career Services I am able to meet with students one-onone to help them in many career related areas. Without the seg fee increase, some peer advisor positions would be in danger of being cut and students would lose that beneficial service,” stated UWRF student Laura Kropp.

The CHILD Center and Student Health motions passed 18-2 and 18-3, respectively. The CHILD Center has not asked for an increase since 2004 and this was definitely taken into consideration by the Senate in their decision.

“Even if the increase goes through we are still projecting a loss,” said CHILD Center Director Minda Matthys. “This increase means we can keep the cost down for all families who are receiving care at our facility.”

The motions for seg fee increases proposed by the University Center, Residence Life, and Dining Services failed after rather in-depth discussions that caused the meeting to last around three hours.

Cara Rubis, director of the UC, presented on the proposed increase. Senators asked specific questions about what the UC was doing already to cut costs, where cuts would have to be made if the motion failed, how much revenue the UC takes in and a few other smaller items. Rubis answered their questions, but ultimately the Senate wasn’t fully persuaded and the motion failed.

Dining Services was a part of a much shorter discussion. Jerry Waller, assistant director of Dining Services, explained that money would be going back to Sodexo, to utilities, and for funding debt. The motion did not receive the 2/3 majority needed to pass, although the vote was close at 10-7.

Another long discussion was held for Residence Life. A few Senators thought that there were some unnecessary items included in the budget such as upgrades to Blu-Ray rooms and some landscaping projects. Sandra Scott-Deux, director of Residence Life explained that those items make up a very small part of the budget and the money is really needed for building updates for safety reasons and staffing. The vote came out the same as Dining Services and the motion failed.

“I believe the motion failed because, given the current economic conditions, today’s students are concerned with any increase in costs to their college experience,” said Scott-Deux.

Facilities and Fees Board Chair Beth DeLong, was disappointed in the discussions held for the motions. She has pleaded with the Senators to get involved at the smaller committee levels where the initial discussions take place and questions can be answered.

“Many of the Senators were uninformed about these motions brought before them and they admitted to that. The biggest problem was that they weren’t focused on the big picture and were too busy picking at all the little stuff.”

The Chancellor has asked Senate for a clear list of reasons as to why three motions did not pass. After receiving that list, he will then take the Senate’s recommendations into consideration and make his decisions on how much more students will be required to pay in seg fees for 2012-2013.

Comments

Elliot John Novak on 22 Mar 2012: Did they not have a vote on the Reserve Money issue? I thought that at the meeting before Spring Break, AFAB submitted their proposal for the way to spend the money, and it received no discussion, thus meaning it was ready to be voted on at the next meeting. So did the fees increase issue take up the whole meeting and the reserve money was tabled until next week???