Final word given on fees

Nancy Ngo

The student services fees committee kept one theme in mind when it made final recommendations for next year’s quarterly allocations: the best service to the most people at the best price.
Committee members spent almost 13 hours Saturday deciding which campus groups fit this criteria when it doled out $15.5 million.
Three groups — the American Indian Student Cultural Center, The Minnesota Daily and the Queer Student Cultural Center — caused more than an hour of discussion each. Spared from stringent cuts the committee originally proposed, the three still could come away with smaller quarterly fee allocations than they requested.
The committee’s final recommendations still must go through Vice President for Student Development and Athletics McKinley Boston’s office and win the Board of Regents’ approval before allocations are official.
“They’re a very conservative group,” said Mary Amundson, committee member and director of Student Development and Athletics. “They tried very hard to keep the overall fee increase as low as possible.” Amundson said the 1.67 percent overall increase is the lowest she’s seen in the four years she’s served on the committee.
In total, full-time students would pay $160.23 per quarter in service fees next year, about $2 more than this school year.
Organizations like the University Student Legal Service, the Asian American Student Cultural Center, Boynton Health Service and the St. Paul Board of Colleges received funding hikes because of increased demand for their services.
Based on initial recommendations released last week, the hardest hit group would have been the American Indian Student Cultural Center, which was forecasted to get a 38 percent cut. But committee members reconsidered the 23-cent slash and maintained the cultural center’s funding after the group gave more detailed information about its budget.
“I think they’ve justified what they’re spending,” said Nikki Kubista, a fees committee member.
Also, committee members continuously referenced the three public hearings held last week. Members took into account which groups had the largest showings at the forums when deciding how much to give out.
The American Indian Student Cultural Center had the second-highest number of students who signed up to speak in support of the campus group, with 30 people.
The Queer Student Cultural Center, which would have faced a 1-cent cut, drew the highest support with 38 speakers at the public hearings. The group came away with a 29-cent per quarter allocation, which at 22 percent was the largest increase of any group.
Forum turnout also worked against groups. Campus Cable, which had asked for $2.02 per quarter, had no one appear before the committee and received no funding.
The lengthiest and most heated discussion was about allocations for the Daily, which received a 10-cent reduction.
But the decrease could have been 49 cents if some committee members got their way.
“Certainly it was a point of contention for all members, including myself,” said Adam Manwarren, who as chairman for the subcommittee in charge of publications pushed for a smaller decrease.
Some members cited displeasure with the newspaper’s content and occasional inaccuracies. Other committee members said those issues should not have been considered in the decision, saying the paper had the freedom to print what it wanted under the First Amendment.
The cuts the committee did make were based on a resolution former members made five years ago, which suggested groups like the Daily become self-sufficient.
Some members were pleased the paper used advertising and other revenue to support 80 percent of its operating budget. But they said the paper could save more at the production end.
Other groups that faced large cuts — up to 16 percent — but were not discussed at length included the Disabled Student Cultural Center and Radio K.