Campus groups entreat fees committee for funds

Nancy Ngo

In a mostly conciliatory fashion, campus groups sounded off on proposed student service fees appropriations Wednesday during the first of three public hearings.
The initial fees committee projections, unveiled Tuesday, held steady or boosted many groups’ quarterly allocations. But representatives from some of the 17 organizations that saw funding levels pared pleaded with the committee to reconsider the cuts.
In total, students could pay more than $160 in services fees per quarter next year, a $2 increase over the current fee. The 14-member committee is charged with divvying up about $15.3 million in the first step of a process that ends with Board of Regents consideration.
Committee chairman Kevin Nicholson said students have seen less of an increase over the past three years. Past assessments show student services fees usually increase anywhere from $6 to $10 each year.
“Fees only went up 1.64 percent. It was a really moderate distribution,” he said. Certain cuts were made to hold groups more fiscally responsible, said committee member Adam Manwarren.
Some student fee groups that got a cut from what they received the previous year include the American Indian Student Cultural Center, Coffman Union programs office, The Minnesota Daily — all which had asked for increased funding.
The committee snipped a penny from Queer Student Cultural Center’s current 24-cent per quarter allocation, 17 cents less than it had requested. The group is under fire on other fronts as well.
Earlier this month, five students sued the regents because they object to funding groups they do not ideologically endorse. Fees committee members said its estimate was not influenced by the pending litigation.
“The lawsuit is against the University, not the committee,” said fees committee advisor Vikki Casey. “They have to go with the current process. Otherwise, they can’t get any decisions made.”
But that didn’t make the cuts easier to digest.
“I’m a straight woman and this provides for me as well, not just for those the name implements,” said Neta Scarpari on behalf of the center. Scarpari said she often attends educational events sponsored by the student organization.
The University YW and the La Raza Student Cultural Center were also named in the lawsuits as groups the students didn’t want to fund for their alleged views on abortion and communism. The fees committee suggested maintaining current appropriations for the two groups, which get 32 cents and 48 cents per quarter respectively.
One of plaintiffs in the case, College of Liberal Arts junior Jessie Roos, spoke at the hearing. “I’m all for the marketplace of ideas,” she said. “But I should not be forced to pay for political and ideological advocacy I disagree with.”
The committee will hold a hearing at 11 a.m. today at the St. Paul Student Center and at 11 a.m. Friday in Coffman Union.