Groups get peek at fees process

by Tracy Ellingson

Campus organizations that entered the race last month for a slice of 1997-98 student fees got their first good look at how they’re faring in the quest for funds.
The three subcommittees of the Student Services Fees Committee released their recommendations Tuesday, outlining how much money campus organizations might receive — or not receive — next year. The fees committee members produced a budget that, if adopted, will raise each undergraduate student’s mandatory fees to just above $160 per quarter, about $4 more than this year’s charges.
“Everything ran very smoothly in our subcommittee,” said Jennifer Halko, chairwoman of one of the subcommittees. “There’s a real commitment to keep the fees as low as possible and to be fiscally responsible for the students.”
The subcommittee recommendations are only the first step in a decision process that includes three public hearings and two full-committee deliberations before the final allocations are made. But, so far in the race for funds, a few programs seem to have gotten off to a slow start while others have gained a decisive lead.
The University’s Parking and Transportation Services did not receive its requested allotment of $2,000,000, which would tack an additional $24 per quarter to students’ services fees, to begin the U Pass Program. The program calls for a replacement of the current Route 52 bus service with a bus pass good on all Metropolitan Council Transit Operations routes for every student. The $24 fee would be mandatory for all students.
Halko, whose subcommittee reviewed the U Pass request, said the committee rejected the program because parking services did not include direct student participation in planning the program, a requirement any organization needs to receive the recommendation.
“(Student involvement) is a major tenet of receiving fees,” Halko said, “and in the past other administrative units have had their funding cut because they haven’t had student involvement.”
University Parking and Transportation Services Director Bob Baker said he could not comment on the subcommittee’s recommendation because he hadn’t reviewed the committee’s rationale. He said, however, that those students who use the Route 52 system should come forward and lobby for the program at the public hearings held later this month.
Supporters of the U Pass were not the only people to receive displeasing news from their subcommittee.
The two graduate and professional student groups received the two biggest recommended cuts in fees funding.
The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly was handed the second-largest decrease, while the largest cut was handed to the Council of Graduate Students, whose president said the decrease could signify its demise.
Early winners in the race include the University’s radio station KUOM, Radio K, as its subcommittee recommended the largest percentage increase of any organization.
Radio K requested and was granted the recommendation of a 37 percent increase more than its current fees funding. The organization stated in its proposal that the increase would be a one-time allocation to expand its coverage by merging with a St. Louis Park high school radio station, KDXL. The project, which would get under way this summer, would allow the University station to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Minnesota Student Association, which is the undergraduate student governing body, received a recommendation for a 13 percent cut.
The full fees committee meets Saturday for initial deliberations, and public hearings will take place next week.