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Interim President Jeff Ettinger inside Morrill Hall on Sept. 20, 2023. Ettinger gets deep with the Daily: “It’s bittersweet.”
Ettinger reflects on his presidency
Published April 22, 2024

GAPSA appeals for funds after costly error

GAPSA missed the January 22 deadline for applications and may not receive any of its $380,000 funding request.
President of GAPSA Kristi Kremers sits in her office in Coffman Memorial Union on Friday. GAPSA submitted their fees application after the deadline and will now go unfunded for this year.
Image by Aleutian Calabay
President of GAPSA Kristi Kremers sits in her office in Coffman Memorial Union on Friday. GAPSA submitted their fees application after the deadline and will now go unfunded for this year.

Each year the Student Services Fees Committee distributes funds to student groups at the University of Minnesota. A large chunk of those fees, more than $370,000, was set aside for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly in 2008-09. But this year, GAPSA missed the January 22 deadline for applications and as a result may not receive any of its $380,000 funding request for the coming year. The group may be forced to discontinue its grant, stipend and event funding operations. “We would cease to exist,” GAPSA President Kristi Kremers said. After realizing the deadline had passed, GAPSA, which serves roughly 25,000 graduate and professional students at the University, quickly worked to amend their costly mistake, Kremers said. They convened an emergency meeting with members of the fees committee in an attempt to salvage funding. Their appeal was denied. “This is a minimum requirement to receive fees,” said Paul Freeman, chairman of the Student Organizations Committee. “If you don’t meet the minimum requirement, you don’t receive fees. This concept is not new or unfamiliar or difficult.” In the past, the fees committee was willing to accept pleas from groups submitting late applications, Freeman said. However, after receiving several late applications last year, the committee changed its policy and has recognized no late applications since. GAPSA is the primary source of funding for many graduate student groups at the University. The $14,000 that Carlson’s MBA association receives from GAPSA annually makes up roughly two-thirds of the group’s budget, according to Andrew Wallmeyer, president of Carlson School of Management MBA class of 2011. Wallmeyer said his association would be forced to cut back club activities next year. “I would hate to see the fees committee punish the entire graduate student population just to prove a point,” said Wallmeyer. The fees committee awards funding based on a variety of factors, but student groups cannot be evaluated unless they meet 12 requirements, one of which is timely application submission. “Their argument seems to be, ‘We’re big, we do a lot of things, we’ve been around for a long time, we’re very important,’ ” said Freeman. After exhausting their efforts to convince the fees committee, GAPSA wrote a formal appeal to Vice Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart and encouraged graduate student groups dependent on GAPSA funding to do the same. “The fees process becomes controversial every couple of years,” Rinehart said. “It looks like this will be one of those years.” Rinehart is the last possible appeal for any group seeking to rectify perceived mistakes by the fees committee. After reaching their final funding decisions, the committee will submit the budget to Rinehart on March 26. He will then go through the budget, making any changes he sees fit. This is the student fees committee equivalent to a line-item veto, and Rinehart has the power to add funding to organizations as well. Rinehart would not say whether GAPSA would be funded. “It was just human error,” said Tyler Price, GAPSA’s new vice president of finance. Price was responsible for submitting GAPSA’s fee application. Traditionally, members in his position are elected two months before fee applications are due. Price was elected one month prior, resulting in a rushed transition and late application, he said. “We were under the impression that the deadline was the following Friday,” Price said. GAPSA was among four groups that submitted late applications. The Minnesota International Student Association, the Bharath Students Association and the Somali Student Association may also go unfunded in 2010-11. The late submissions included entries that missed the 3 p.m. deadline by 29 minutes and by just over one hour. GAPSA submitted their application three days late. “We’re just going to enforce the deadline. It takes all viewpoints out of this,” Freeman said. “No one can say this committee has been biased.”

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