Members say fees debates are fair

Raiza Beltran

There are two important things in the process of distributing student fees among student groups — an open discussion and the inclusion of the student body in the debate, said Dave Olschki, a member of the third student services fees subcommittee.
The Student Services Fees Committee as a whole has generated dispute for the lack of diversity among its members, despite being one of the most powerful student groups on campus.
However, the 13-person committee, divided into three subcommittees, included a diverse range of opinions in their meetings and were hardly controversial, said several of its members.
“(The meetings) went well,” said fees subcommittee member Elizabeth Miller, a biology sophomore and a member of the University Marching Band. “Nothing was predetermined. We listened to each group member fairly.”
Olschki, a chemical engineering graduate student who joined the committee to represent graduate student needs, said there was vigorous debate among his group members but they were productive in their discussions.
The five-member subcommittee includes two engineering students, a health advocate, a board member of The Minnesota Daily and a University administrator. The group reviewed budgets from governmental student groups including the Minnesota Student Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Council of College Boards and the Student Legislative Coalition.
The budgets for Community Child Care Center and Crisis Point: Theatre of Danger and Opportunity were also reviewed by the subcommittee.
Having recently finished hearing the student groups’ budget presentations, mechanical engineering junior Tom Koehnen said the process was educational.
Rick Schibur, a budget and finance officer in the Office of Budget Planning and Development, said he was impressed by the presentations.
“It was well-prepared and thorough,” Schibur said. “Every group did an excellent job.”
However, subcommittee chairman Julien Kubesh was a little troubled by the presentations.
“Some groups had bad numbers and were too late (turning in) their budget requests,” Kubesh said, a third-year member of the committee and Daily board member.
Kubesh, also a member of the College Republicans, was pleased with the rational discussions that took place in his subcommittee’s deliberations.
“These are the best people I have worked with in three years,” Kubesh said. “One thing we looked at hard is the holistic programming provided,” reflected by the amount of student involvement in the group.
The Student Services Fees Committee will begin deliberations on Feb. 29 and will present their decision in public hearings in the beginning of March.

Raiza Beltran covers student life and student groups and welcomes comments at [email protected] She also welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3225.