Many give funding feedback at fees committee public hearing

Nine administrative units asked for $21.4 million in fees, and the committee granted $20 million.

Bryce Haugen

More than 100 people packed the Student Services Fees Committee administrative units public hearing Wednesday, voicing distress and gratitude to the five-member panel.

“Usually, we’re the boring (hearing),” Dave Golden, Boynton Health Service director of public health and marketing, said outside the overflowing Murphy Hall classroom. “But we’ve gotten interesting this year.”

In past years, student group funding has dominated the fees debate, but the fees committee’s recently proposed cuts to Boynton, Radio K and the department of recreational sports drew dozens of students to the hearing.

Nine administrative units asked for $21.4 million in fees. The fees committee initially granted approximately $20 million to the groups.

Brad Spychalski, Minnesota Programs and Activities Council vice president and a journalism senior, said he attended the hearing to thank the committee for granting the activities council’s full fees request and ensure the recommendations become final.

“We’re just trying to show how important MPAC is to the entire student body,” he said.

Though some in the crowd, such as the activities council’s officials, seemed happy with the initial recommendations, many more students expressed dismay at the committee’s proposed funding cuts.

In its report, the committee recommended a $52,000 cut to the department of recreational sports for “reducing unneeded costs.” It also granted no money for the department’s debt service fund.

Intramural water polo team captain Jeff Remakel, a University student, said the department runs a tight budget.

The department’s two staff members, who are in charge of more than 30 teams, might lose their jobs because of the cut, he said.

“We couldn’t do it on our own,” Remakel said.

The cut will have a devastating impact, said marketing junior Mike Deyle, who said he uses the recreation center facilities frequently.

“If this happens, either student employees will be fired or facility hours will decrease,” he said.

Dozens of Radio K supporters also attended the public hearing.

To show her support, journalism senior Jen Parshley donated $100 to the station, drawing applause.

The committee recommended cutting the station’s funding by $47,000 because of “declining listenership.”

Radio K provides a needed alternative to commercial radio, said former University student Charles Amdahl, a lawyer who said he donates $1,000 per year to the station.

“I hear you crunching a lot of numbers,” he said. “(Radio K’s) worth more than numbers. There’s a lot of intangibles that you need to take into account.”

Andy Marlow, Radio K’s station manager, said the group will need to cut the positions that were created a few years ago after a fees increase.

“Essentially, we’re going backwards,” he said.

The fees committee also recommended a $126,000 cut to Boynton.

Heather Kamrath, the Student Health Advisory Committee chairwoman, said, “Can you fairly say that your proposed cuts to Boynton’s health education and public health department will help students when their health will be jeopardized?”

In a separate recommendation, the fees committee unanimously denied Boynton’s proposal to offer summer service to all students.

The fees committee said it also denied The Minnesota Daily’s funding request for an audio-visual department and trimmed the publication’s summer budget by $50,000.

“We are very conservative with our (summer) budget,” said Justin Scott, the Daily’s classified and sales manager. “We’re not being frivolous with our money.”

Administrative Units Fees Committee Chairman Daniel Levin said he was pleased with the meeting’s attendance because public input is important.

“Everything that was said today will be seriously taken into account before and during deliberations,” he said.

The committee will release its final recommendations next week, following public deliberations Monday.