GAPSA discusses fees transparency

A resolution could change the group’s fees request process.

Blair Emerson

Following accusations that leadership wasn’t transparent enough in its student services fees application, four Graduate and Professional Student Assembly members introduced a resolution Wednesday to regulate the process in future years.

The resolution would regulate how the assembly’s leaders respond to fees-related questions from group members and mandate that they respond to all questions from the Student Services Fees Committee. After heated debate, the resolution didn’t get a vote because some GAPSA members said there weren’t enough voting members at the meeting to pass a measure.

GAPSA requested about $392,000 from the SSFC for the next academic year, but the committee’s initial recommendations offered GAPSA only about $176,000.

Some members said the assembly’s top leadership didn’t answer their questions about GAPSA’s fees request and refused to answer questions from the fees committee, which the members say led to the low initial recommendation.

But GAPSA President Brittany Edwards said she didn’t answer the committee’s questions because she was told one SSFC member had a bias against GAPSA.

“I was advised that engaging in the process that had been corrupted, that clearly had an agenda behind it, was not in the best interest of our students,” Edwards said.

Student groups committee Chair Benjamin Beutel said Edwards’ allegations are “groundless” and the SSFC has regulations in place to prevent bias. For example, fees committee members will recuse themselves from any action involving groups with which they may have a conflict of interest.

The GAPSA resolution introduced Wednesday would have mandated that all members of GAPSA’s executive board and general assembly consult on the group’s future fees requests and respond to the fees committee’s questions.

“We just wanted to think about whether the current way in which [we] submit the fees request is the best for GAPSA moving forward,” GAPSA Executive Vice President Alfonso Sintjago said at the assembly meeting Wednesday.

At a Wednesday public hearing to protest initial fees recommendations, the president of the School of Public Health Student Senate, Maeve McClellan, said she was unable to give input to the GAPSA Executive Board during this year’s fees request process.

Because of this, she said, the group wants to be excluded from GAPSA’s fees request this year. The senate is currently one of 10 groups that receive funding through GAPSA’s student services fees appropriation.

Council of Graduate Students President Andrew McNally also testified at a hearing on Thursday and said COGS and other GAPSA member councils were concerned that they weren’t involved enough with the assembly’s fees application process.

COGS applied for its own student services fees for next year. It also voted in November to split from GAPSA,
effective this summer.

Cody Nelson contributed to this report.