Groups to choose fees committee

The Student Services Fees Committee will recommend how to spend $22 million.

JP Leider

During a joint meeting today, members of the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly will vote on Student Services Fees Committee membership and all-campus election commissioners.

While members of MSA and GAPSA often work together informally, the meeting helps increase cohesion between the two groups more officially, said MSA President Emily Serafy Cox.

The meeting’s joint executive address will emphasize the growing relationship between the two organizations as well as address the work MSA and GAPSA have done in cooperation, said GAPSA president Karen Buhr.

“We want to encourage the organizations to work together and not just at the presidential level,” she said. “We really want to foster that relationship between (MSA and GAPSA).”

The Student Services Fees Committee will recommend how $22 million in Student Services Fees should be disbursed this year.

The fees process has had a storied past in recent years, as Jerry Rinehart, the University official who oversees the process, has overturned several recommendations from the fees committee.

“The reversals are not a sign of a good, working fees process,” Serafy Cox said.

Since so many groups rely on the fees process, picking people who will serve the fees committee well is “incredibly important,” she said.

GAPSA and MSA regularly issue resolutions or position statements addressing student issues, but they rarely issue a joint statement.

One such resolution – if passed at today’s meeting – would call for MSA and GAPSA to lobby against cuts proposed to the Higher Education Act through House Resolution 609, the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005.

Although still in committee, HR 609 is something that needs to be addressed now, said Amy Thornton, GAPSA vice president for public affairs and the resolution’s co-author.

“Somebody has to look out for students. This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s a student advocacy issue,” she said. “This isn’t student government versus administration. This is trying to ensure that the investment in higher education is continued.”

Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance, said it is important for students to stay informed about changes to higher education legislation.

“As we move to a high-cost, high-tuition, high-aid model, students need to be informed about how they’re going to finance their education,” she said. “So it is crucial that they look at what is going on with higher education programs.”

Wright said funding for higher education will likely come under more pressure in the near future because of the federal deficit, which could mean less money in aid for students.