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With Kaler’s OK, student services fees allocation changes to be formally approved

The fee requests from campus groups will be broken down into three categories and reviewed by separate committees starting next year.

The University of Minnesota is expected to formally adopt an overhauled student fee allocation process later this week.

The recommendations were sent to University President Eric Kaler last month after a task force made up of student leaders and administrators drafted changes to how student services fees are processed. Kaler approved the proposed changes Monday, and the Office for Student Affairs is expected to adopt the changes later this week.

“I am extremely appreciative of the work put in by the task force to examine and improve our student services fee process,” Kaler said in an emailed statement. “I support the recommendations of the group and look forward to the implementation of the new structure.”

With the recommendations, groups seeking a portion of the fees would be split into categories — student groups, administrative units and media groups, said Megan Sweet, Office for Student Affairs’ chief of staff and a leader of the task force.

Student groups are those registered with Student Unions and Activities and administrative units are organizations such as Boynton Health, the University Recreation and Wellness Center and Student Legal Services.

There were several complaints from student groups about the existing process being too confusing, said Abeer Syedah, president of the Minnesota Student Association and member of the task force.

“Basically, we were asked to make recommendations on how the process can be streamlined and simplified,” Sweet said.

Student services fees are distributed between student groups and student services. This year, non-exempt students will pay $432.18 per semester in student services fees.

Each group applies for funding, which is reviewed by a committee that allocates funds.

Currently, Sweet said, all groups apply with the same application under the same principals.

“But these groups are fundamentally different,” said Jill Merriam, budget director for the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost and member of the task force.

Administrative units that ask for thousands of dollars can’t be funded using the same guidelines as student groups seeking only a few hundred, she said.

Under the new recommendations, group categories will have a different application process and a separate review committee, Merriam said.

The student and media groups will be looked over by committees with a student majority, Sweet said.

The committee reviewing administrative units will be made up of student leaders from MSA, the Professional Student Government and the Council of Graduate Students, Sweet said.

All three committees will also have University-appointed administrators, faculty and staff members, she said. The committee overseeing the media groups will also have someone from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she said.

Media groups include the Minnesota Daily, Radio K, Wake Magazine and any other student group with a strong media inclination, Syedah said.

“All of [the media organizations] will get to be assessed in competition with [their] peers,” she said.

The recommended changes also include financial advising for student groups, Syedah said.

Current regulations don’t include any kind of financial mentorship, she said.

If approved, the changes will be effective Jan. 1, Sweet said.

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