GAPSA: Fees, please

JP Leider

For a student organization requesting almost three times as much as any other student group, members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly seemed relatively confident going into Sunday’s fees presentation.

The reason, said Abu Jalal, GAPSA’s vice president for finance, is preparedness.

“I’m confident in that I’ve done my job and the research, and that we understand the needs of graduate and professional students,” said Jalal, who prepared GAPSA’s $377,230 request.

This year’s request sees an approximate $500 increase from last year’s request.

Should GAPSA receive its full request, next year’s budget would decrease about $15,000 to $396,120.

GAPSA President Karen Buhr said the organization has consciously been reducing its budget over the past few years to remain fiscally responsible to graduate and professional students.

When she went through the fees process in previous years, Buhr said, reality set in that she was actually “spending student money.”

This semester, each graduate and professional student paid $11.53 in Student Services Fees to GAPSA.

One of the areas GAPSA is most fixated on is community building, Buhr said.

“One of the biggest problems with graduate and professional students is that they’re locked in the office most of the time.”

To get students out of their labs or offices, GAPSA regularly hosts socials or “Family Bowling Nights,” Jalal said during the fees presentation.

GAPSA fills some of the void left by the University, he said.

Jalal cited lack of University-sponsored orientation for graduate and professional students as an example.

In addition to the likes of food expenditures, GAPSA’s fees request is so large in part to the fact that GASPA funds each council and college board that makes up the organization.

Pass-through funding and grants for GAPSA’s 10 councils and college boards take up almost $140,000 of this year’s fees request.

After the fees presentation, committee members questioned GAPSA officers about grant and food expenditures, which combined are about 65 percent of the fees request.

Student Organizations Chairman Henry Hewes said fees subcommittee members are instructed to be neutral going into presentations, but also to be inquisitive and critical.

The reason, Hewes said, is to determine whether a student organization’s actions are in line with its mission statement.

In two weeks the full Student Services Fees committee recommendations will be released.

Student organizations or administrative units, such as The Minnesota Daily or Boynton Health Service, that want to contest committee recommendations may appeal to Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for Student Affairs, who makes final recommendations to the Board of Regents.