Editorial: UMN Student Services Fee should not be made optional

The state cannot threaten the University into conforming to a policy that will hurt students.

Last week, the Minnesota Daily reported on a legislative proposal that could impact funding for a number of groups and students resources on the University of Minnesota campus, including the Boynton Health Service and the Aurora Center.

The proposed change would require the school to make its student services fee optional. If the University does not comply, the state could withhold a significant amount of funds that would otherwise go the institution.

Some University officials have questioned the constitutionality of the proposal — like Board of Regents members and legal experts — who believe the bill compromises the University’s protected autonomy from the state.

The measure is part of a bill authored by Rep. Drew Christensen, R-Savage, a recent graduate of the University who told the Minnesota Daily that “the constitution doesn’t say anything as far as how much money the Legislature has to allocate to the University of Minnesota.”

Many student groups such as the Minnesota Student Association and the Professional Student Government oppose making the Student Services Fee optional.

“I’m quite worried,” Minnesota Student Association President Abeer Syedah told the Daily. “I think what concerns me the most is that this is a process that students have been very vigilant about … in some ways this takes some of [students’] autonomy away.” Over 60 student government leaders signed a letter urging legislators to reject the measure.

We concur with those student-leaders, members of the Board of Regents, and all those on and off campus who view this measure as entirely unacceptable.

If the state government will not fund the University adequately enough to provide for such necessary resources as the Boynton Health Service, the Aurora Center, and the variety of professional and hobby groups that give shape, meaning, and futures to the lives of the majority of students who attend the University of Minnesota, they cannot also unreasonably restrict the means in which the University is able to fund those services.

We wrote in Thursday’s editorial about the rough year the University has been having at the State Legislature and the trend of the University receiving less money from the state since the Great Recession when you factor in inflation.

The legislature cannot continue to inadequately fund our school and then threaten us with even less funds if the University doesn’t conform to the tuition structure they wish to impose.