Official hears fees gripes

Liala Helal

Several University groups got their final opportunities to voice complaints with the Student Services Fees Committee’s 2005-06 funding recommendations Thursday.

Nine groups lobbied for the support of Jerry Rinehart, the University’s associate vice provost for student affairs, who has the power to overturn the fees committee’s final decisions.

Several students and advisers gave emotional testimonies about how cuts made by the fees committee would hurt their organizations. They also said the committee’s findings were inconsistent, showed a lack of effort and did not represent the views of University students.

The Twin Cities Student Unions expressed concern about an approximate $360,000 cut. Most of that cut would affect the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council, which organizes major campus events, such as Spring Jam and homecoming.

Representatives held posters and signs for several of the council’s events and programs with a large “CANCELLED” printed over them, representing events that could be damaged or eliminated.

“MPAC touches all students by creating fond memories that build a community,” said Daniel Abrams, a member of Twin Cities Student Unions .

He said 15 percent or 20 percent of funding is a budget cut. But 75 percent of the funding is cutting an entire agenda, he said.

Several students from Radio K said the committee did not listen to their explanations and based its decisions on its dislike for the station’s music format.

They also said the committee’s rationale that Radio K is not a “student organization” was factually false Officials said the organization is entirely run by students.

The radio station also proved its value to the community, its representatives said, because students named it the best radio station in The Minnesota Daily Grapevine Awards.

The fees committee recommended no funding for Crisis Point Theatre because of low attendance rates. But theater officials said there have been large percentage increases in attendance.

American Indian Student Cultural Center representatives said that the fees committee made several insensitive comments during the process. Board member Jon Reynolds said the fees committee even suggested getting funding from casino revenue. He also said that one fees committee member appeared “obviously intoxicated” at one hearing.

Representatives from the Daily, Students for Family Values, Hmong Minnesota Student Association, Entrepreneurship Club and the Summer Cultural Programs also voiced concern about fees recommendations for the upcoming year.

Rinehart’s decisions will go to the Board of Regents in May and will be approved in June.

After the meeting, Rinehart said the students’ comments were very helpful, but some issues raised were very bothersome. He urged groups to continue sharing their thoughts.

“I can’t promise anything, but when you leave here, you can be sure that you’ve been heard,” Rinehart said.