GAPSA, MSA name fees panel selectors

Jens Krogstad

Student government representatives approved student fees committee selectors Tuesday.

Student fees selectors help choose members of the committee that divides student fees among student groups. All students taking six or more credits pay student fees, which totaled about $18 million this year.

Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said groups depend on student fees, and whether they receive money can alter a group’s objectives and activities.

“It changes the mission of your organization completely if you have to spend all year fund raising to throw one or two events a year,” he said.

MSA, the undergraduate student government, chose business and economics senior Marty Wingard and accounting and finance senior David Redlinger to serve.

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly chose education and human development graduate student Paul Durand and College of Natural Resources graduate student Jeremiah Fauskee to serve.

MSA campus relations Chairman Ibanga Umanah’s nomination to be a fees selector last year was criticized because some thought he had a conflict of interest as an MSA representative for the Black Student Union. If a person is an officer of a group, it is considered a conflict of interest.

Umanah said the group’s constitution was unclear on who was an officer. Under a new constitution, Umanah said, he would be eligible to serve as a fees selector.

This year, Dyer – who nominates fees selectors for the Forum to vote on – said he was expecting another contentious debate because of Marty Wingard’s selection, but that did not happen.

Wingard served as a chairman on the Student Services Fees Committee last year and is a member of the Campus Republicans and Students for Family Values.

“Marty and I probably have never agreed on anything in our lives, but he is the most qualified,” Dyer said.

Additionally, Dyer said, Wingard was forthright in his student group involvement, and his decisions as a fees committee chairman last year were fair and balanced.

Dyer said the main nomination criterion was viewpoint neutrality. He said that means a group’s political or religious affiliation should be ignored when deciding which groups receive money.

The term “viewpoint neutrality” comes from a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court case, University of Wisconsin Board of Regents v. Southworth, in which the high court ruled that a university can collect student fees even if some students disagree with the viewpoints of the groups to which money is going.

“The whole theory of viewpoint neutrality is that minority views are treated with the same respect as are majority views,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Robert Jones, vice president for faculty and academic programs, reviews the fees committee’s recommendations and forwards them to the Board of Regents, which makes final decisions. Numerous public fees committee meetings are held during spring semester.