Forum grants chance to address Regents

by Heather Fors

Those with gripes about the University’s budget often complain to their friends and co-workers. However, Thursday they can air their grievances with the Board of Regents.
Regents will hold an open forum for anyone who signs up by Tuesday to speak about the budget. The forum will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday at the Coffman Union Theater.
“It’s kind of public testimony in its purist form,” said Steven Bosacker, the board’s executive director and corporate secretary.
At these meetings the board members listen, but make no comments in return. Community members, legislators, students, faculty or staff can comment on the tuition and faculty salary increases or classroom renovations included in the $1.6 billion budget proposal.
Officials don’t expect the budget to cause much of a stir.
“I believe a number of people are pleased with what’s been done, so I don’t expect a large turnout,” said Regents Chairman William Hogan II. “I have not heard that there is much discontent among the student body.”
Hogan’s sentiments were echoed by Regent William Peterson, who said he hasn’t heard anything from students about the average 3 percent tuition increase included in the plan.
Student leaders have a different take on things.
“There’s no justifiable reason the regents have given to raise tuition above 2.5 percent,” said Nikki Kubista, president of the Minnesota Student Association.
Students must contend with rising housing costs, food and book prices in addition to tuition increases, Kubista said.
At the forum, she will present board members with a petition requesting minimal tuition hikes. Other MSA members will discuss different budgetary issues with regents, such as concerns about student services fees.
The schedule of speakers for Thursday’s meeting is not full. Officials aren’t sure if this year’s turnout will top the three people that showed up last year — the meeting lasted 10 minutes.
Regents hold frequent open forums for gauging public opinion about different subjects. The budget forum is a long-standing tradition, Bosacker said.
Anyone who wishes to speak can sign up in 220 Morrill Hall or by calling 625-6300.