Clean up the fees mess

The process still has problems with late applications and appeals.

by Daily Editorial Board

Every year, the student services fees process is a mess. There are late applications, audit problems and confusion. The madness needs to stop.

This year, the Queer Student Cultural Center turned its application in late and was denied funding. They went through the new appeals process put in place last summer and reduced their request by 25 percent. They were still denied funding by a 3-2 vote. Now, they will appeal to Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart, the University of Minnesota administrator in charge of the fees process.

QSCC turned their application in late and deserves to be penalized. However, the group should not be completely defunded. Eliminating a groupâÄôs funding out of a petty desire to punish that group also hurts the students they serve and the broader University community.

Last summer, the Student Services Fees Reform Committee was formed to deal with this problem of late applications and an unclear appeals process. As we have seen this year, their work was incomplete at best.

Groups are still allowed to appeal to Rinehart, who can make a final funding decision. While we donâÄôt necessarily disagree with RinehartâÄôs past decisions, leaving thousands of dollars in student fees funding up to a single administrator cannot be the best or fairest way to allocate those fees. But leaving all funding up to the Student Services Fees Committee has its drawbacks too. A small group of politically motivated students can hijack the process, as happened last year.

Last yearâÄôs problems still remain. There needs to be a fairer way to dole out fees so no one interest can dominate. And there needs to be a clear, written set of penalties for late applications, not the whims of an appeals committee and a single University administrator.