A more open fees process

The allocation of Student Services Fees, while a complicated process, must be transparent.

Last year was a year to forget for the Student Services Fees Committee, the group in charge of making recommendations for the allocation of student funds. After divvying up $22 million among 32 student groups and administrative units, the committee faced accusations of discrimination, lack of interest, conflicts of interest, tardiness and general rudeness.

The fees process is a stressful one for students who have spent long hours filling out applications and preparing presentations under fear their student group will have its funding cut. The fees committee should take a number of precautions to prevent another fiasco. Final decisions will be made on approximately March 4 this year, giving the committee some time to enact change.

First, the fees committee should make its process of decision-making more transparent. It is a positive they held three public hearings to ensure students could voice their concerns. But more can be done to publicize how the committee makes its decisions.

It is a positive the committee does have its past recommendations online; however, the general University needs to know how the decisions were made before a report is made and even before the public hearings.

The fees committee should make efforts to open a dialogue with the student groups whose funding they decide.

An ongoing dialogue would make the process more of a collaborative effort between the groups and committee. This would reduce the surprise and frustration generated during the fees hearings. Two goals could be realized; that of the student groups to be granted enough funding for their prosperity and that of the fees committee’s goal to save students’ money.

A number of questions would be answered, including whether committee members have time to really look at the reams of applications they are handed each year. Transparency in the fees process can only be a good thing and will help to reduce accusations of discrimination by the committee.