Fees appeals process falls behind schedule

Three groups have yet to hear the outcome of their appeals — now a week overdue.

by Andrew Johnson

Though one week has passed since the scheduled end date for appeals, two student groups have yet to get a chance to make their cases before the Student Services Fees Appeals Committee âÄî the next step in their quest for funding.
On Monday, three student groups hoping to negotiate more funding for next year met with the appeals committee. Six total groups filed appeals after final fees recommendations were announced March 28, and they planned to make their cases between March 30 and April 5, as the fees schedule states.
But it wasnâÄôt until April 6 that the Black Student Union learned the appeals process had been pushed to this week.
âÄúAll the appeals meetings were supposed to be done by last Tuesday,âÄù BSU President Arsenio Ward said. âÄúSo we were sitting here wondering what was going on because we didnâÄôt hear anything back whether or not we were granted an appeal meeting.âÄù
Due to the postponed meeting date, the entire fees timeline has been changed, including the deadline to make a final appeal to Vice Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart.
That date was pushed back from April 8 to April 19.
On Monday, Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Queer Student Cultural Center pled their cases before the appeals committee. The Ayn Rand Study Group at the University of Minnesota convinced the committee via email to grant it more funding, while QSCC will have to wait until the full appeals committee meets again.
Saint PaulâÄôs Outreach and BSU have yet to meet with the committee.
Because of a scheduling conflict, BSU was unable to make the Monday meeting and had to reschedule.
âÄúI feel like weâÄôve been spanning this out,âÄù CASH President India Burton said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt need to be dragged out this long.âÄù
In their presentation, CASH members clarified how fees would be used. They had originally asked for $8,000 but were recommended $6,420.
Burton said CASH was supposed to meet with the SSFC before the appeals process, but a meeting was never scheduled.
âÄúBecause we werenâÄôt granted that meeting, we were forced to appeal,âÄù she said. âÄúI feel like all of this couldâÄôve been fixed in one meeting.âÄù
This is the first year a formal appeals process that involves members of the Student Services Fees Committee has taken place. Previously, student groups went directly to Rinehart when they wanted to appeal the SSFCâÄôs recommendations.
âÄúThe option to appeal to the vice provost of student affairs still exists, so that wasnâÄôt eliminated as part of the creation of the appeals committee,âÄù said Megan Sweet, the SSFC adviser. âÄúIt was meant to add just another layer of student involvement.âÄù
The committee has five voting members made up of students from this yearâÄôs SSFC. On Monday night, only four were present.
The even number of voters raised some issues in voting procedures throughout the meeting.
The four members deliberated and voted on the groups that presented but tabled the decision on QSCC until all five members were present.
QSCC submitted its initial fees request 48 minutes late, and the fees committee recommended it not receive any funding. The group appealed, requesting a self-imposed 25 percent penalty cut to its initial request of $50,000 for its tardiness.
The appeals committee voted to increase GAPSAâÄôs fees share by $38,745. The group originally requested $373,000, but SSFC recommended $330,705, partly due to some inconsistencies in GAPSAâÄôs budget submission. It corrected these inconsistencies in its presentation.
CASH was ultimately granted $8,000 after explaining what programs and group activities would be funded with fees and what would be done through membership dues and event tickets.
The Ayn Rand Study Group emailed further information about its appeal, and the committee voted to grant the group $81,885. The group initially requested $89,905, but the SSFCâÄôs final recommendation was $39,285.
Members of the appeals committee debated the role and responsibility of the new appeals process. The appeals committeeâÄôs overall authority was undefined at times.
If student groups are still displeased with the appeals committeeâÄôs decisions, Sweet said the opportunity to meet with Rinehart remains.
Rinehart will make final fees decisions after holding a public forum April 26.