Group finalizes decisions

The committee decided to form a working group to handle details of the fees process.

Riham Feshir

Healthy debates ensued as a fees advisory committee had its final meeting Thursday.

The committee, which is working to improve the University’s fees process, decided to form a working group to handle details of the fees process. The group will have representatives from the Minnesota Student Association and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

It will also have a fees adviser and a budget officer, and MSA and GAPSA will represent student groups.

MSA president Emily Serafy Cox said she is concerned about MSA representing all student groups, and said a representative from each student organization should be in the working group.

“I think that representing all of them would be very difficult to do,” she said. “This process of the fees review committee, or just gathering ideas has not been as inclusive as perhaps it could have been.”

The working group will also be responsible for paying stipends to students on the committee, deciding the size of the fees committee, looking at the review process and reviewing the appeals process to make it more understandable.

“The working group looks for misinformation or inaccuracy of information that the committee has,” said Jerry Rinehart, vice provost of student affairs.

The advisory committee also considered having the fees committee send letters and e-mails to student groups with recommendation decisions. In past years, the committee has notified groups of its decisions in public meetings.

But the fees presentations give the committee an opportunity to defend its decision, said Amelious Whyte, Rinehart’s assistant.

Additionally, committee members often change their minds based on what they see in presentations.

“A minimum of five to six recommendations have changed (in the past) because of public hearings,” said June Nobbe, Office of Student Affairs campus director.

The working group will also consider a change that would allow students to choose which groups their Student Services Fees go to, although they would have to pay some fees no matter what, Rinehart said.

The committee also discussed how to handle administrative units, which have larger and more complex budgets than student groups. Members decided that some administrative units should be handled differently than others, because groups as different as Boynton Health Service and The Minnesota Daily are in that category.

The committee members voted that the four larger student service units – Boynton, recreational sports, student unions and legal services – go through the fees committee process in the same years that the University develops its budget proposal for the State Legislature.

The remaining administrative student service units – Radio K, the Daily, Summer Cultural Programs, Learning Abroad Center and the Student Conflict Resolution Center – will do the fees committee process every other year in the “off-years,” which will begin in 2007.

Bill Gilles, national director of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, said he thinks some administrative units, such as the Daily, should be reviewed every year. Because the Daily does not have any administrators hired by the University and is not subject to Board of Regents oversight, it needs scrutiny, Gilles said.

But Whyte said just because the Daily is run entirely by students does not mean it doesn’t provide a service to the University.