Groups assail proposed fees cuts

Some student group leaders said fees panelists are rude and unprofessional.

by Jens Krogstad

Many University students said this year’s student groups fees committee has acted unprofessionally, and some group staff members said it’s the worst they have ever seen.

The complaints against the committee include taking phone calls in the middle of meetings, tardiness and rude behavior such as talking, eating and rolling eyes during presentations.

“I’ve never in my whole experience come across a fees committee like this,” said Alison Blomster, Queer Student Cultural Center executive director, whose group was recommended for a fees cut.

Lindsay Brown, student groups fees committee chairman, didn’t hear any complaints until the initial recommendations were published. He said he thinks people complained because groups were unhappy with recommendations.

As for the behavior of the committee, the fees committee “deserves some grace” because it was forced to endure unusually long hours after the University administration changed the fees schedule, he said.

Fees adviser Aaron Asmundson said the committee could have spread the presentations throughout the week but voted to hold them during weekends because of scheduling conflicts.

Emily Souza, Queer Student Cultural Center treasurer, said she wasn’t surprised at the committee’s initial recommendation because she heard the committee was fiscally conservative. Other groups echoed that sentiment.

“We feel that the committee is too intent on reducing the total amount of fees paid by students to heed the legitimate and popular programming needs of the student organizations,” the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly said in a prepared statement.

This year’s student groups fees committee’s total recommendation was 10 percent less than what groups received last year. The figure does not include check-off groups or administrative units.

Some groups directed their complaints toward fees committee member Jareesa Tucker.

The groups complained she was late to presentations and took phone calls during them.

Tucker said she missed three presentations because of prior commitments, but doesn’t remember answering her phone.

Chris Ruen, co-publisher of The Wake, said Tucker personally attacked his group, which received a no-funding recommendation during Friday’s deliberations.

“She just flew off the handle,” he said. “It was a bunch of very unprofessional and emotionally charged statements.”

Brown she said understands why groups complained about Tucker, but said she is a “beneficial member of the committee.”

Members of the cultural center they said were surprised by the size of the group’s cut because the center appears to be efficiently run.

Asmundson used the group’s fees application as an example of what one should look like.

The committee gave reasons for the cut, including that the center spends too much money on staff salaries.

Last year’s final recommendation for the group called Blomster, executive director, “an essential part of the QSCC.”

Not all complaining groups received cuts.

The Minnesota International Student Association received approximately $27,000 more in its recommendation than last year, but President Sulieman Nader worries about the fees committee.

He said the minority opinion in his group’s recommendation ignores everything he said during the presentation.

Jeff Nath, Minnesota Student Association vice president, is happy with what the committee recommended for his group but predicted a rocky road for the fees process.

“This is the most cut-filled year I can remember,” he said. “I think these are going to be fireworks-filled (public hearings).”

Martin Andrade, Students for Family Values president and past fees committee member, she said didn’t have any complaints about this year’s fees committee. It recommended increasing his group’s funding.

But he said committee members don’t always look at requests carefully.