Student groups speak out about reduced funds

Student groups gathered to declare their displeasure with initial fee recommendations.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Kristi Kremer speaks to the U of M fees committee at Coffman Union Memorial Hall on Tuesday.  The committee denied GAPSA over $300,000 in funding because they missed an application deadline.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Kristi Kremer speaks to the U of M fees committee at Coffman Union Memorial Hall on Tuesday. The committee denied GAPSA over $300,000 in funding because they missed an application deadline.

by Luke Feuerherm

Student groups gathered Tuesday night to declare their displeasure with initial fee recommendations by the Student Organizations Fees Committee. The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly was one of the most vocal groups at the hearing, as the fees committee refused to recognize their request, which was submitted after the deadline. Last year, GAPSA was awarded $375,403. TuesdayâÄôs hearing was designed to allow groups to speak directly to the committee and clarify any inconsistencies, Fees Committee chairman Paul Freeman said. The Minnesota Student Association and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group were vocal about their proposed reductions. The committee recommended MSA receive $83,600 of their $140,103 request, nearly $40,000 less than they received this year. âÄúA $56,503 reduction in our request is a rather substantial and unjustified one,âÄù MSA President Paul Strain said. MPIRG is currently set to receive $98,300 of their $130,000 request, $4,000 less than this year. âÄúYouâÄôre cutting the passion of students by cutting their resources,âÄù said an MPIRG representative at the meeting. Initial fee recommendations were sent out March 1, five days after groups expected them. Erich Martin, Student Services Fees Committee adviser, told the committee to move back the deadline, Freeman said. âÄúAs far as IâÄôm aware, you missed a deadline last week and you simply changed the deadline,âÄù said Tyler Price, GAPSA vice president. âÄúIâÄôm sorry we donâÄôt have that luxury, but weâÄôre the ones being hurt for it.âÄù While some groups complained over differences in fiscal opinion with the committee, others addressed their late applications. âÄúWe are really sorry to submit a late application, and I am embarrassed to be here,âÄù said a Minnesota International Student Association representative. MISA is one of the groups that missed the application deadline, and as a result the committee did not recognize their application. Some speakers addressed particular rationales for committee decisions, and others personally attacked members of the committee. âÄúIf one of your fees committee members hadnâÄôt been sleeping during our presentation,âÄù MSA member Missy Gettel said, âÄúthere might not be a need for us to be here today.âÄù Not everyone in TuesdayâÄôs audience greeted the committee with hostility. MSA member Ben Rider said, âÄúI have seen a lot of waste in our programs, and I believe that tightening our belt in this tough time is probably a necessary thing.âÄù Many groups recommended structural changes in the committee and the creation of a formal appeals process. âÄúWe have requested numerous meetings with the fees committee and weâÄôve been denied,âÄù GAPSA President Kristi Kremers said. Kremers said the committeeâÄôs decision not to fund GAPSA was âÄúgrave.âÄù âÄúWeâÄôve heard GAPSA, weâÄôve heard MISA say that they screwed up,âÄù said Ryan Kennedy, a member of MSA, GAPSA and MPIRG. âÄúWe really would like to hear those same words come from Mr. Freeman today.âÄù During the meeting, committee members are not allowed to address statements made by the public. The administrative units branch of the committee will hold their public hearing Wednesday night.