Fees decisions lacked support

If this level of cuts is necessary, it should be targeted and consistently applied.

Last year’s Student Services Fees process upset many student groups, which felt their budgets hinged on the personal ideologies of the committee members who divided the funds. Fast forward through extensive training and dividing the committee into two bodies, one for student groups and one for administrative bodies, and we arrive at Monday’s final recommendations of the administrative groups subcommittee with just as many problems.

The subcommittee’s preliminary recommendations upset a few groups, but it had its reasons. The final recommendations, though, are arbitrary, capricous and uninformed.

With groups such as Boynton Health Service and the recreational sports department, the subcommittee had little justification for their end amount, other than it sounded OK. During the meeting, the process to arrive at $700,000 for the department of recreational sports’ debt service was like a Sotheby’s auction. The subcommittee also arrived at the $40,000 cut from Boynton’s request in a manner that can best be described as picking a number out of a hat.

At least the subcommittee attempted a rationale for cutting funding from The Minnesota Daily’s request. In part, it thinks the Daily does not need funding for depreciation expense and should dig into its reserves. It’s true the Daily does not pay anyone for depreciation expense. But every year, the Daily purchases equipment necessary to produce a paper and run a business. Those expenses over time turn into depreciation. If the subcommittee thinks the Daily should purchase no new equipment no matter what needs arise, it should say so. That would at least make some sense.

There is a pattern here, though. The subcommittee thinks the Student Services Fees should go down. So it decided to make cuts and force groups to do more with less. But we see no clear evidence groups are wasteful, and cutting just to cut is unwise.

The University officials who review these recommendations should first decide whether slightly decreased Student Services Fees are worth the inevitable decrease in student services from Boynton, the recreation center, the Daily and other groups. Those officials should remember the subcommittee thinks so and that it is a form of student government. Either way, those officials should also give the subcommittee’s final recommendations a thorough review. Cuts can be made if necessary, but they should be targeted and have consistent reasoning.

Next year, the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, which influence the committee members selection process, need to find more qualified Student Services Fees Committee members and have even more training.