Students face fee increase to fund new groups

Jens Krogstad

As the fees committee debates how much money to give campus groups next year, a record number of applicants could mean students pay an unprecedented amount.

Thirty-nine groups requested about $3 million in student fees this year.

Thirteen new groups have joined the fray, which could produce a variety of results because the fees committee has no limit on the amount of money it can allocate, University officials said.

“(The fees committee) has been encouraged to take into account other financial factors that students must take responsibility for when making decisions on funding, (such as) rising tuition costs,” fees adviser Aaron Asmundson said.

For this school year, each student paid $277.12 per semester in fees. That total could increase if most groups receive their requests.

But Asmundson said the fees committee could also maintain last year’s bottom line, which would result in less money for existing fees-receiving groups.

The record number of applicants could also result in no changes for existing fees-receiving groups if most of the new applicants do not get any money.

Nearly all groups asked for more from students this year.

The Minnesota Daily asked for the largest increase, requesting $240,356.75 more than it received this year.

Daily President Joe McKenzie said the group has never asked for this much and does not expect to receive it all. But he hopes to at least garner operational budget increases, such as inflation adjustments.

“We see the fees process as an opportunity to talk about the projects we’d like to do if we had enough money,” he said.

Those projects include 2004 U.S. presidential election polls and summer training workshops.

The Minnesota Student Association bucked the trend and asked for $15,000 less than it did last year.

MSA Vice President Jeff Nath said its request reflects increased

tuition.

“We thought we’d be a little more responsible to students and ask for less money this year,” he said. “Most groups are going to ask for more money, but we feel we can do better with less.”

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly requested $104,232.80 more than it received this year. The group received a $150,000 fee increase for this year.

Abu Jalal, GAPSA vice president for finance, said the additional money is for projects supported by a survey the group conducted.

“The results of the survey show that (our requests) are something students want,” Jalal said.

Some of the programs GAPSA hopes to fund include travel grants for graduate students to attend conferences

nationwide.

The group also hopes to implement a matching grants program to match students’ departmental grants of up to $5,000.

The Wake, a University student-run magazine, requested $120,000, almost double what it received last year – the first time it received fees.

Wake co-founder James DeLong said he wants to solidify the organization before he and co-founder Chris Ruen graduate this spring.

“The first year, we learned that things cost a lot more than we thought,” he said.

The group wants to increase circulation, buy its own cameras and pay someone to distribute the paper. Employees currently distribute the paper around campus.

The Asian-American Student Union asked for $70,000, an increase of $32,000 over last year’s request.

Surya Sukumar, the group’s president, said the student union has had to choose between services and programming in the past, and this year it hopes to do both.

The group also supports nine other non-fees-receiving groups.

One of those, the Hmong Minnesota Student Association, is seeking fees money for the first time and asked for the most money of any new group this year, $35,000.

Campus Republicans also has never received fees money. It requested $32,000.

Other first-time applicants include the Student Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, for $31,000; and Students for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, for $29,700.