Students voice fees concerns to vice president

The hearing, chaired by Robert Jones, constituted one of the final stages in the fees process.

by Emily Ayshford

Students had one more chance to express their concerns with student services fees recommendations Wednesday at a public hearing presided over by Executive Vice President and Vice Provost Robert Jones.

Jones and the Board of Regents must approve the Student Services Fees Committee’s recommendations to become final.

A few students expressed dissatisfaction with the overall fees process.

Political science senior Anthony Reel expressed concern over the criteria used to determine whether to fund groups.

“All fees are being applied subjectively,” he said.

Reel also said the fees were allocated to protect the status quo, favoring established groups.

Political science senior Orlando Ochoada said the committee needs to use clearer criteria.

“Some groups use digression or have different interpretations of what things mean,” Ochoada said.

Supporters of Friends of Israel said they did not understand why the group did not get funded.

Koby Nahmias, a member of Friends of Israel, said the anti-Semitism he has experienced at the University justifies student funding for a group supporting Jewish people.

“The fees committee decided we weren’t important enough,” Nahmias said.

Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars members asked Jones to consider more funding for their group. Yufeng Guo, the group’s vice president, said they have been underfunded for many years – resulting in board members having to volunteer their time. Each of them puts a lot of energy into fund raising, Guo said.

The check-off fees system was also a topic of discussion during the debate.

Minnesota Student Association members, who passed a position statement Tuesday in support of a neutral check-off system, defended their position.

MSA member Marie Clark said the group’s decision was not whether to support groups funded through the current negative check-off system. She said MSA members thought it would be more efficient and responsible for students to actively check “yes” or “no.”

“It would still be a refusable fee,” Clark said.

Political science sophomore Shaun Laden, a member of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, said he thought MSA’s position statement should not overturn the University’s position on the negative check-off system.

“It’s a little frustrating that we have to revisit this,” Laden said.

Jones will pass his recommendations on to the regents, who must approve the recommendations by June.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]