Fees group forges ‘new identity’

Student Services Fees Committee members attended three training sessions.

Bryce Haugen

With training complete, Student Services Fees Committee officials say they hope this year will not be marred by the controversy that surrounded last year’s process.

Committee members got their first glimpse at the 700-page fees request document at their third and final mandatory training session Friday at Coffman Union.

The 13-member committee will meet with fees-requesting groups in the coming weeks to decide how much of the $22 million in Student Services Fees – if any – the groups should receive.

Last year, many student group leaders said, some committee members lacked respect for their duties – arriving unprepared for meetings and sometimes eating and falling asleep during the groups’ presentations.

Also, groups alleged that committee members weren’t reading the packet material the groups prepared to explain their requests.

Last year, members just didn’t seem to listen, said Como Community Child Care Director Jill Madsen, who presents to the committee each year.

“That’s our one-half hour to let you know why this money is so important for us,” she said. “I don’t care if you’ve been there all day, you should be attentive and respectful and listening.”

But comparing this year’s committee with last year’s would be unfair, fees adviser Aaron Asmundson said.

“I don’t have any preconceived expectations, but they all seem excited to be here and very qualified,” Asmundson said.

The committee has only one returning member.

Fees committee Chairman Steve Wang said he’s confident the new group will take its job seriously.

“This is a whole new group with a whole new identity,” he said. “We aren’t here to mend fences Ö our goal is to give funding to groups that deserve funding.”

Before the semester break, the committee held two training sessions during which members met one another and reviewed the group’s bylaws. They also learned about the University’s financial outlook and received training in parliamentary procedure.

In previous years, the two sessions were the extent of the group’s training. This year, they added a third session.

Wang said the additional session allowed the group, which hasn’t met since before winter break, to get back “on the same page.”

The training also aimed “to ensure members come prepared to meetings,” he said.

At the meeting Friday, Asmundson and Wang reiterated their expectations for the group. To ensure the committee maintain “a unified voice,” they told members to avoid speaking with the press.

Though three training sessions are better than two, members need to spend even more time studying student groups, said Amy Olson, director of

Hillel, the Jewish student center.

“They would get a better sense of what the group is all about and the impact (it) is having by seeing the group in action, not just reading a packet of information,” she said.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Abu Jalal said that even with another session, the training is insufficient.

“I don’t think they can do it without spending more time individually (with groups),” he said. “I’m not confident, but hopefully, it will be better than last year.”

Asmundson said fees committee members think the training is adequate. Time constraints prevent scheduling additional training sessions, he said.

“Everything that we’ve seen has shown it’s been effective,” he said.

After listening to presentations from the 30 groups that applied for fees, the committee will release its initial recommendations in late February. At the beginning of March, it will hold public hearings and finalize its recommendations.