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Student Senate to vote on proposed segregated fee

February 11, 2015

All students attending UW-River Falls may find their enrollment costs slightly increasing next year, according to a proposal put forth during Student Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

A segregated fee of $175 for the 2015-2016 academic year, which would then eventually increase to $200 in future academic years, as part of a “phase-in” plan, was proposed by Chancellor Dean Van Galen during Tuesday’s Senate meeting and is set to be voted on by Senate at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Willow River Room, located on the third floor of the University Center.

The fee would be used to help fund the Falcon Center, which is under construction with a budget of over $62 million, and is set to be completed before the fall of 2017.

If the proposal is passed, it would be the monetary equivalent of increasing student tuition by 2.58 percent, based on tuition prices listed on the UWRF website for the 2014-2015 academic year.

According to the UW System educational statistics, in the 2013-2014 academic year, UWRF had a full-time equivalent enrollment of 5,503 students. Therefor, a $175 fee increase, per student, would lead to an approximate amount of $963,000 that could potentially go towards the Falcon Center, per year.

“The proposed fee was determined based on an analysis of critical needs for staffing, equipping and maintaining the Falcon Center,” said Van Galen in an email. “It will be a great facility.”

Van Galen has desire to “partner with students to ensure that it meets the needs of our campus in a cost-effective manner.”

In an email, Senate President Anthony Sumnicht addressed a popular question from students: “Why are we building this new facility when our budget is getting cut?” According to Sumnicht, $50 million of the funding for the Falcon Center comes from state contributions and is funded separately from the regular UWRF budget.

“If we don’t use these one-time state funds now, they will be used to build a building somewhere else in the state,” Sumnicht said. “There is no way to take these funds and use them anywhere else on campus.”

This would not be the first time that students contributed money towards the Falcon Center through a Segregated Fee. According to Sumnicht, the student body decided to commit just over $6 million towards the construction of the Falcon Center in March of 2008.

According to the proposal, the Falcon Center is expected to increase recruitment and retention. The proposal cites a survey of 33,522 students conducted by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

The proposal states that about two-thirds of people surveyed said that recreational facilities are a significant contributing factor in deciding on a university to attend while roughly three-fourths said that such facilities contribute to them staying at universities they currently attend.

Regarding the fee, the proposal claims that “without it, the campus’ new flagship academic, athletic, fitness and recreational facility would remain barely operational and underutilized.”

The Falcon Center, when completed, will be open to students at no additional cost, according to Sumnicht. Currently, however, there is no free admission or discount for alumni who wish to use the Falcon Center. All non-student, faculty or staff members will have to pay for a membership according to the present plan.

Senate meetings are open to anyone, and are held at 7 p.m. every Tuesday on the third floor of the University Center in the Willow River Room.