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Senate approves nine fee increases for 2013-2014

March 7, 2013

Student Senators Tanner Johnson, Grady Nelson and A.J. Hansen listen to ideas about what fee increases should pass.
Student Senators Tanner Johnson, Grady Nelson and A.J. Hansen listen to ideas about what fee increases should pass or not. (Brianna Samson/Student Voice)

Student Senate has approved nine fee increases effective next semester. In all, each student will pay an additional $308.69 per academic year if living in a double occupancy room and on a 14 meals per week plan.

If a student does not live on campus or is not on a meal plan, the student will pay an additional $10.69 per academic year.

These fees were part of 15 budgets presented by facilities and fees organizations to the Senate on March 5. While nine requested increases, the other six requested the segregated fee paid by the student remain the same.

All budgets, regardless of if they were requesting an increase in fees or not, were required to go before Senate because they lay out the amount allocated to each respective group for the upcoming year. Items included program events, salaries for staff, travel, organization fees and other line-item costs needed to run the organization.

All 15 budgets were approved by Senate. The budgets will now be presented to Chancellor Dean Van Galen for final approval.

While every budget requesting an increase cited declining enrollment as a main reason for the increase in student fees, Senator Hannah Carlson noted that the Senate should also take into account the economic impact on students before approving fee increases. However, all increases passed with no budgets receiving more than two dissenting votes.

While some budgets such as the CHILD Care Center and Student Life passed unanimously with little to no debate (since they requested no fee increase) others raided heated debates, only to be overwhelmingly passed.

For instance, the dining services committee recommended a $55 per semester, or $110 per academic year, increase to the 14 meals a week meal plan. Senators like Carlson raised questions as to what the money would go toward and questioned whether food quality would actually increase.

However, the representatives from dining services said they needed their budget passed in order to know how much money they had before they could determine what the food options would be.

At the Senate meeting, each of the 15 budgets was discussed and debated on by an individual basis. The budget that culminated the most discussion was the Athletic Department’s request for a $2.50 fee increase.

Senators such as Kayla Edstrom, felt that it was not fair to make non-athletes pay for athletic needs because not every student participates in athletic programs or attends athletic events. However, other Senators, such as A.J. Hansen, said the athletic programs are a source for campus pride, recruitment, and retention and therefore should be supported.

After nearly an hour of debate the athletic fee increased by a vote of 21-2.

The largest fee increase was $188 more for a double occupancy dorm room and $238 for a single or suite room. Director of Residence Life Sandi Scott Duex said at her presentation to the Senate that this fee goes toward building upgrades such as keeping and upgrading Wi-Fi usage and for having free laundry available to the residents. A new program created with the Kinni Outdoor Adventures fee will be a proposal to create a bike rental program for campus. With the 25 cent increase, students will now be able to rent a bike to use around campus. The details of the program have yet to be worked out according to Director of Recreation and Sports Facilities Steve Stocker.

Another change students can expect to see in the future is an upgrade to student ID cards.  According to the Carding Office’s proposal, the 15 cent increase will be used to upgrade the quality of the cards and to make them accessible on mobile devices and computers. This will allow students to be able to access account balances and add money to their Falcon Dollars account.

The organizations requesting to keep their fee the same include the CHILD Center at $21, Student Life at $85, Textbook Services at $143.30, the intramural complex fee at $8, the University Center at $455 and Career Services at $38. These are fees that students will continue to pay for the 2013-2014 academic year. Other fees that increased include 54 cents for intramural programs, $1.25 for Hunt Arena, $2 for municipal services and $4 for health services. All 15 budgets will now be presented to the chancellor for his signature. Should he reject any of the budgets, it will be sent back to the facilities and fees committees for reconsideration.