Full committee releases recommendations

by Raiza Beltran

The student committee charged with allocating funds for 31 student groups found that some groups were holding too much money in their back pockets.
Encouraging various fees-receiving organizations to dip into their reserve budgets, the Student Services Fees Committee released its initial recommendations Saturday, which reflected this argument with several budget cuts to the student groups’ fees requests.
With a small crowd observing the discussions, the fees committee spent nearly nine hours dissecting the rationale of each of the three subcommittees’ recommendations released last Wednesday.
“It’s a contentious debate, which I predicted it to be,” said Mike Franklin, a fees committee member. “But I’m glad to see people interested in the process.”
While the Africana Student Cultural Center and the theater group, Crisis Point, received a combined increase of $16,110 over the subcommittee’s earlier recommendations, the fees committee decreased the budget recommendations for The Minnesota Daily, Campus Involvement Center, University Young Women and the Council of College Boards.
The committee upheld its subcommittee’s recommendations for the remaining student groups, including the Minnesota Student Association.
Most student groups that received decreased funding fell into the trap of not using enough of their reserves. Student groups’ reserves are funds allocated from previous student fees for possible budget shortfalls or other expenditures.
The Minnesota Daily and MSA, both of which received budget cuts during the fees process, were asked along with other groups to tap into their reserves.
According to subcommittee documents released Wednesday, fees members wrote, “We are … concerned with the amount of money MSA has on hand.”
Crisis Point members found themselves in a similar situation, receiving zero funding from the fees subcommittee.
“We’ve been very financially responsible to the point where we get no student fees,” said Point member Megan Sanborn.
Expected to use part of its reserves, the theater group will receive only $14,500 next year under the fees committee’s recommendations, nearly a $10,000 shortfall from last year.
Several committee members recommended cultural centers make more use of their reserves to pay for group activities instead of requesting additional funding.
Committee member and Afro-American studies professor Rose Brewer said the committee shouldn’t penalize cultural centers for having inadequate reserves since it is not a requirement.
“The rules say groups ‘may’ have reserves. We require a rule change … I believe we’re hitting below the belt,” Brewer said.
Fees committee member Jared Christiansen argued for reserves to be kept under student groups’ control.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell students how to use their reserves,” Christiansen said. “Student groups don’t have to follow what we tell them.”
Saturday’s full-committee recommendations are only the beginning of the process, said Jesse Berglund, chairman of the student services fees committee.
“I would feel there is still a large chance for committee recommendations to change,” Berglund said.
Berglund recommended student groups present their positions in the three public hearings this week: March 1 at 3 p.m. in 313 Murphy Hall; March 2 at 11 a.m. in the Northstar Ballroom in the St. Paul Student Center; and March 3 at 10:10 a.m. in 10 Blegen Hall.

Raiza Beltran covers student life and student government and welcomes comments at [email protected].