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Opinion

Student Senate update: Complications prevent athletics referendum from passing

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May 6, 2015

Student Senate had its last meeting of the semester on Tuesday, May 5. During this meeting, Senate discussed several motions, including the “Recreation and Sports Facility Bylaw Amendment” and the “Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee,” which was postponed at the previous Senate meeting in order for the motion to go through the correct channels before being voted upon.

As a follow-up from my column last week, I will talk about the Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee motion.

This motion, as I have previously written, was created to decide whether or not Senate should hold a referendum that the student body would then vote on to approve a $3 per person, per semester allocable segregated fee in order to support the athletics department, including the women’s tennis and golf teams.

This was in response to a potentially significant budget cut to the athletics department due to the proposed $4.9 million budget cut to the university. Because of this, the athletics department and university leaders were faced with a difficult decision: should the department suspend the women’s tennis and golf teams in order to stay within budget?

Thankfully, as of May 1, this was no longer the case as it was decided that the teams would not be suspended.

The decision on the motion then wasn’t whether or not to financially support the women’s tennis and golf teams, but to support the athletics department as a whole and have them spend the $3 allocable segregated fee as the department sees fit.

There was a lot of discussion on this motion, one concern being that the motion was originally intended to save the two teams that were facing suspension; and with that not being the case anymore, many Senate members saw this additional segregated fee as unnecessary and possibly rushed.

The room seemed fairly split in regards to a vote until it was brought to Senate’s attention by Brenda Irvin from the UW-River Falls budget office that fees “were supposed to be submitted to the UW System by March 31,” and that “F50 makes it clear that athletics are meant to be funded by a non-allocable fees, [sic] this motion is against policy.”

After learning this, Senate did not pass this motion.

Because of this, I left the Senate meeting very frustrated. I wasn’t frustrated about the UW System policy or f50 regulations or the fact that the segregated fee wasn’t passed, I was frustrated that this wasn’t brought to Senate’s attention sooner.

However, according to UW Board of Regents Policy F50, athletics can be funded via an appropriated allocable segregated university fee (SUF). Other UW System schools, such as UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee, have allocable segregated fees for their athletic departments.

SUF funding cannot, however, be used for salaries and contracts, which is another reason the referendum didn’t pass.

A lot of athletes took the time out of their day to come to the Senate meeting again this week in support of the segregated fee, which was another positive.

I want to end this column by saying that is has been a really interesting semester attending and covering Senate meetings. Before this semester, I shared the same view that most students have: I knew nothing about how Senate worked or how much power they actually had, and I didn’t really care.

But after attending my first meeting, I knew that being informed on what Senate is doing isn’t only important, it’s necessary. I hope these columns have helped you stay informed and I hope to see all of you at the first Senate meeting in the fall.

All information in this column comes from the May 5 Senate meeting and select documents from Senate’s OrgSync page. It’s very important for all students to stay informed on what is going on with Senate. Senate meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the Willow River Room of the University Center, and the meeting agenda can be found 24 hours prior on the Senate page. To see the details of what was discussed last Tuesday, go on the Senate page and read through this week’s minutes document.

The expressed viewpoints in this column do not express the views of the Student Voice staff.

Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Comments

Jack Tuthill on 07 May 2015: Thank you gentlemen for your comments. I understand your frustration in regards to the factual issues with this Viewpoints article, as well as the attack on Mr. Sumnicht and the entire Senate. The Assistant Editor and I are working on clearing up factual errors with this article and removing any unwarranted hate speech. Please don't view this opinion piece as the overall viewpoint of the Student Voice. This is a viewpoint, not a news story, so it's important to treat it as such. I have also been told that the journalism department's f50 issues were resolved yesterday evening. So the f50 debate can be put to rest for now, until it inevitably is brought up again by future Senates. Thank you both for your service at UW-River Falls. I know it cannot be easy making the tough decisions on behalf of the entire student body. Jack Tuthill, editor-in-chief

Stephen Middlemiss on 06 May 2015: Dear Voice, Wisconsin Board of Regents policy explicitly states the athletics SUF funding except for salaries and contracts are allowable. UW-La Crosse and UW-Steven's Point have allocable have fees for athletics. Had this organization done sufficient research of searching f50 and reading it they would have discovered this, but it did not. Additionally it is prohibited by board policy f50 to receive academic credit from SUF funding, the voice receives SUF funding and offers academic credit which is an abuse of state funds. The voice also receives funding for printing which is explicitly allowed under f50, but it sells adverting which is considered revenue generating and must be used to repay the SUF fee until the cost incurred has been recovered. Stephen

Anthony Sumnicht on 06 May 2015: Please check your facts or at least make a journalistic attempt to contact the individuals you plan to defame before you publish your personal interpretation of Board of Regent Policies. Board of Regent Policy F50 explicitly states athletics as an appropriate Allocable SUF expenditure. Other Universities, such as La Crosse and Stevens Point, have Allocable SUF for their athletic departments. Some examples of things that are explicitly listed as prohibited uses for SUF are academic credit producing activities, direct financial aid, gifts, donations and contributions. Another notable portion of F50 to point out is that, when an organization's event is SUF supported, any revenues generated by an organization, such as ad revenues, must be used to reimburse the SUF fee account.