Student fees subcommittee

by Raiza Beltran

Encompassing a wide political spectrum, the Student Services Fees subcommittee that reviews University cultural and recreational centers is comprised of a libertarian, a conservative, a liberal and one who claims a “mixed” voting record.
This four-member subcommittee spent the last two weeks hearing budget presentations from cultural student groups, such as the Asian American, Africana and Queer student cultural centers.
Elected to allocate more than $15 million from student fees, the larger 13-member student fees committee, which is divided into three subcommittees, is considered one of the most powerful student-run groups on campus.
The four members of subcommittee I cover a broad scope of interests and opinions. Two members of the group are graduate students and three students are first-time members of the fees committee.
“(The fees committee) is one student group that has a say on what’s going on in the University,” said subcommittee chair Sabeen Altaf, a first-year graduate student in public policy. Because she recently received her bachelor’s degree, Altaf said she is able to relate to both undergraduate and graduate student needs.
Currently in the deliberation stage of the fees process, members of fees subcommittee I were presented with elaborate budget requests by the student organizations.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well prepared the student groups were,” said Rich Kaszeta, a mechanical engineering graduate student. Claiming that his ideology “spanned a wide spectrum of traditional and slightly liberal views,” Kaszeta joined the fees committee for graduate students’ voices to be heard.
A diversity of voices as well as the graduate students’ voices will be contended with, said advertising junior Jason Reed.
“It’s definitely going to be a battle,” Reed said, who claimed to be the only known liberal on the committee. Reed chaired the College Democrats and is the vice president of The Minnesota Daily’s Board of Directors.
“The conservatives in the committee have been brought up in the social context to try to save students money and tend to be fiscally close,” Reed said. “For most of the committee, I pretty much can peg where they’re going to go.”
Economics sophomore Rebecca Stempfle said there are definite problems with the fees process. Stempfle, a former president of the Campus Libertarians, said the members of the subcommittee, although politically diverse, have worked well together.
“(In discussions) there is nothing personal. We talk through things and discuss the issue,” Stempfle said.
The fees committee is expected to announce their budget recommendations by the end of February.

Raiza Beltran covers student life and student government and welcomes comments at [email protected].