Student fees process will face intense examination

The majority of voting members on the review task force will be students.

by Jenna Wilcox

This year marks the first full-scale review of the student fees process since 2005, and student government is gathering volunteers to serve on a review committee.

A Student Service Fees Review Task Force has been formed every five years since 2001 to assess issues with the process and address changes that need to be made.

âÄúThis is a very important part for student groups on campus,âÄù Minnesota Student Association speaker Drew Horwood said at the latest forum meeting. âÄúIt will essentially determine what the new formula for giving money to student groups will be.âÄù

A smaller scope assessment was completed in the summer of 2010 to address a four-part charge from Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart. The issues included the appeals process, reserve fund requirements, compensation of student group staff and late or incomplete applications for funding.

âÄúWeâÄôve had some kinks in the past and weâÄôre looking to get those all cleaned up,âÄù Horwood said.

Sean Niemic, former chairman of the Administrative Units committee within the Student Services Fees Committee, dealt with a lot of those âÄúkinksâÄù during his time on the committee and in the review process. Niemic claimed the task force didnâÄôt have much freedom during the summer 2010 review.

âÄúThere were a lot of things they wanted to look at that the Office of Student Affairs consistently deemed outside the scope of the committee,âÄù Niemic said.

Niemic said what he most wanted to see changed in the process was a better defined appeals process and changes in how the fees committee responds to late or inadequate applications.

âÄúIn life, deadlines are serious and we shouldnâÄôt teach student groups that deadlines arenâÄôt serious,âÄù he said.

He said the difficulty of the process can be a big hurdle for groups applying for the first time.

âÄú[Groups] have to be ready a year-and-a-half ahead of time just to ask for money,âÄù Niemic said. âÄúStudents shouldnâÄôt have a fees process where groups are afraid to apply.âÄù

The fees cycle ended at the end of spring semester last year which, according to SSFC adviser Megan Sweet, didnâÄôt leave the committee enough time to review the process.

âÄúThere would have been a full-scale review in 2010, but due to the timing the task force did most of their work over the summer,âÄù Sweet said.

This year the committee will be made up of 14 individuals including students, staff and faculty with 12 voting members and two non-voting members.

Sweet said the majority of the voting members will be students.

MSA and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly will each have three representatives on the task force. One representative from the Student Affairs Student Advisory Board will serve on the task force. The remaining seven members will be staff or faculty.

But this year students havenâÄôt been expressing much interest in being members of the committee.

MSA President Lizzy Shay announced at the last forum meeting that Rinehart charged MSA to nominate five students to be part of the task force. After the meeting volunteers were asked to speak with either Horwood or Shay.

âÄúNo one came up to me after the meeting or has emailed me,âÄù Horwood said. If interest continues to lag, the executive board will be asked to step in.