Resolve fees committee problems next session

The Student Services Fees Committee has been involved in a few contentious debates for the past several months, the most recent concerning disagreements about the voting privileges of faculty members. Student members of the committee are accused of intentionally withholding information about budget-request hearing times from participating faculty members. There has been discussion that the Board of Regents might consider reconvening this year’s committee to resolve these allegations. However, instead of reconvening this year’s process — which would involve a considerable effort on behalf of all parties involved — students and faculty members should concentrate on establishing a foundation for following years, one that would address the proper involvement of faculty members on the committee.
For the past six years, no faculty member has served on the fees committee. Apparently, a Minnesota Student Association resolution rescinding faculty voting privileges kept potential applicants from seeking participation. However, the MSA decision is void, as the Board of Regents’ official policy is that faculty deserve the same voting rights as student members.
This year, four faculty members applied and three were accepted onto the committee. Unfortunately, they were not appointed until at least five days after the first budget presentation. A lack of communication between the students and faculty members further prevented them from attending any of the remaining hearings, except for the MPIRG hearing, which professors Tim Brennan and Rose Brewer attended. Committee Chairman Jesse Berglund had no other choice but to accept the faculty members in a nonvoting capacity. Being present for the hearings on budget requests is essential to understanding what the funding is used for. Similarly, any student who had been appointed days into the process and had fully participated in so few of the meetings would have lost his or her voting privileges. Faculty members must be held to the same standards as students.
Despite the committee’s agreement with Berglund concerning whether the three faculty members deserve a vote, the Board of Regents might require the fees committee to begin the process again with full voting privileges granted to the faculty members. This course of action would alter the outcome insignificantly. Although increased discussion might help the committee find a better consensus, the three faculty votes would have little or no impact, as nearly every decision has a fair majority, according to Berglund.
However, faculty members offer experienced perspectives and insightful arguments to the fees-committee process. A student’s tenure at the University is usually temporary, while a faculty member’s tenure is ordinarily much longer. They can provide a holistic approach with a more thorough understanding of the intricacies of the University’s needs. However, proper faculty involvement — either through voting rights or in a position of advising students — should be addressed for next year’s session. It would be impractical and unnecessary to try to resolve this issue this year.