Services across campus depend on fees

Hayley Odom

From student government to flu shots, student services fees infiltrate almost all facets of the University.

Last year, the Student Services Fees Committee distributed approximately $20 million worth of fees – approximately $19 million to administrative units and $1 million to student groups. The committee will release its preliminary fees recommendations for next year’s funding requests Monday.

Administrative units

Many administrative units rely heavily on Student Services Fees to support their operational costs, services and student programs.

The Twin Cities Student Unions and Student Activities Office requested the highest allocation of Student Services Fees for next year – approximately $8 million, an amount similar to past requests.

“Student unions are the heart of campus, and we are here to provide a place for student community, opportunities for students to connect with one another,” said Mary Amundson, Twin Cities Student Unions and Student Activities Office associate director.

Amundson said a large part of fees fund the programming the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council provides. Other services, such as Goldy’s Game Room and free movies sponsored by the council’s film committee, are also funded by fees.

Forty-nine percent of the Twin Cities Student Unions’ budget is supported by student fees. The rest is self-generated revenue from tenant leases, convenience stores, events and conferences.

Other administrative units also receive student fees funding.

The Department of Recreational Sports receives 46 percent of its budget from student fees and 54 percent through self-generated revenues. It is requesting approximately $4 million in fees for next year.

“We wouldn’t have enough money to operate and we would have to close our doors (if we didn’t receive Student Services Fees),” said Jim Turman, assistant vice provost for student affairs and director of the Department of Recreational Sports.

His department is the largest student employer on campus and gives more than $1 million back to students through wages, Turman said.

Boynton Health Service relies on student fees for 30 percent of its budget. The other 70 percent comes from third-party payers, such as insurance companies and fees from various services, said Dave Golden, director of public health and marketing for Boynton.

“We’ve really worked hard at not increasing (our request for fees) which is really important,” he said.

This year is the 10th consecutive year Boynton has not asked for a noninflation-related student fees increase, Golden said. It is requesting approximately $6.5 million.

Other administrative groups vying for Student Services Fees include the University Student Legal Service, which is asking for $949,770, and Radio K, which is requesting $137,000.

Top five student groups

Although student groups receive only a small portion of Student Services Fees – approximately 6 percent – they make up most of the fees-receiving organizations.

For this year, the fees committee allotted The Minnesota Daily the most of any student group – $448,879.

The paper is also requesting the largest increase – $240,357. Daily President Joe McKenzie said he does not expect to receive it all, but he hopes that the paper receives at least some increase for operating expenses.

Fees made up approximately 21 percent of the Daily’s $2.1 million budgeted income this year; advertising provided the majority of it.

McKenzie said that without student fees the Daily would have to find other revenue sources and would need to cut staff.

The second-largest fees-receiving group is the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. It is asking for $480,802 – an increase of about 26 percent from last year’s allotment.

Fees made up 96 percent of GAPSA’s income this year.

GAPSA Vice President Abu Jalal wrote in an e-mail that the group cannot currently meet the demand for grants. Forty-three percent of the organization’s budget request is grants for students, student groups and college councils.

GAPSA used a survey to help determine what its constituency wanted, according to its fees request. More attendance at events and increased program use also account for its requested increase, Jalal wrote.

Unlike the other top fees-receiving student groups, the Minnesota Student Association is requesting $150,000, which is approximately $13,000 less than last year’s allotment.

Nearly all of its income comes from student fees.

According to the undergraduate student government’s fees request, even while cutting expenses it plans to take on funding the All-Campus Elections Commission next year.

Approximately $77,000 of MSA’s budget this year covered operating expenses – including approximately $40,000 for payroll; $93,500 is going to programs and projects – a majority of which helps fund campus events.

The Student Dispute Resolution Center ranks fourth among fees-receiving student groups.

The center closed 682 cases last year and estimates that by helping students resolve issues with the University last year, it saved students $132,109.

The center also helps students besides those who use its service, director Jan Morse said. When resolving policy-type issues, she said, all benefit.

Unlike many universities, the University does not fund student resolution services, she said.

“It gives us an independence that a lot of other ombudsman offices don’t have, which really helps the students,” Morse said.

The Wake, which received fees for the first time this year, is asking for $120,000 – twice the amount it received last year.

Christopher Ruen, co-founder of the publication, said The Wake needs the increase to meet its goal of doubling its circulation and eventually becoming a weekly paper.

Fees make up 84 percent of The Wake’s income.