Committee recommends not funding U service

by Brett Knapp

Students who find themselves accused of wrongdoing by the University next year may not be able to seek help from the Student Advocate Service.
The Student Services Fees Committee recommended that funding for the Student Advocate Service be cut completely for the 1996-97 school year. The fees committee recommended about $15,000 more be given to the Student Dispute Resolution Center to hire a professional to defend students against the University.
Students taking six or more credits per quarter this year currently pay $146.45 to help fund non-academic groups and departments. The Student Advocate Service receives 49 cents of each student’s fee, while the Student Dispute Resolution Center gets 71 cents.
The fees committee recommended that the dispute resolution center receive 79 cents per student next year.
The dispute resolution center currently advises students of their options when the University accuses them of wrongdoing, such as cheating on a test. If students decide they want a formal hearing to defend themselves, they are referred to the advocate service.
Last May the fees committee requested that the two groups merge to save money and make their services more accessible by operating out of one office. The two groups were unable to come up with an agreement, and decided to each request fees for next year and continue their attempts to merge.
But the fees committee decided that the groups had more than enough time to combine their services. “We’d been trying and trying to get them to merge,” said Janet Hacker, chairwoman of the subcommittee that reviewed the groups’ requests. “We decided something new had to be done.”
The committee considered reducing funding for both groups in order to force a merger, but decided that would make both groups weak, Hacker said. Instead the committee decided to cut the advocate service completely and give more money to the dispute resolution center to perform both groups’ tasks.
Having both services in one office will make it easier for students, said Janet Morse, administrative director of the dispute resolution center. “It’s a one-stop shopping kind of thing,” she said.
But members of the advocate service said the University has been trying to get rid of them for a long time.
“I think that this recommendation will make a lot of people in the University administration very happy,” said Tim Wolf, director of the service.
Wolf said the service defends about 225 students a year against charges by the University.
Advocate Michael Taylor said they win about 95 percent of those cases, and that makes administrators mad.
“The U gets very angry because we do a good job,” Taylor said. “The U doesn’t want students to know their rights.”
Wolf also said he thought it was foolish to hire a professional advocate for the dispute resolution center when the advocate service already has one. “Why do that when there is an advocate already in place?” Wolf said. “We have a proven track record.”