Official restores Wake’s funding

Associate Vice Provost Jerry Rinehart overruled the fees committee and gave the student magazine the $60,000 it requested.

by Jens Krogstad

The Wake student magazine is back from the dead.

After the Student Services Fees Committee recommended no funding to the group for next year, University Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart issued a last-minute pardon Tuesday to the tune of $60,000.

Rinehart also increased the administrative fees committee’s funding decision for the Department of Recreational Sports by approximately $67,000.

The Wake co-publisher James DeLong, who founded the magazine with Chris Ruen, said he is ecstatic.

“I’m so happy, I’m just floating, man,” he said. “It feels really good to know that Jerry Rinehart was actually listening to us. I just wish there more people like him on the fees committee.”

Rinehart’s recommendation is the last in the fees process before it reaches the Board of Regents.

Rinehart said The Wake’s situation was exceptional because cutting the group’s funding would have killed it and wasted past fees money.

In not reducing the $59,850 in fees The Wake received for the first time last year, he said the group will have another year to meet its goals.

“There was a big investment of money in the organization and it does show signs of life,” he said. “Unlike the other funding cuts, this would have essentially ended this organization.”

Rinehart sent a letter to Robert Jones, University senior vice president for system administration, explaining his decision to increase funding for recreational sports.

Rinehart wrote that the administrative fees committee allowed Boynton Health Service and Twin Cities Student Unions to retain money from the 2004 fiscal year’s salary freeze, but it wanted to force recreational sports to return the money without a compelling reason.

“They did not offer any explanation why recreational sports was treated differently than the other large administrative units (Boynton, Twin Cities Student Unions),” Rinehart wrote.

Administrative fees committee member Dan Nelson said Rinehart’s rationale to increase recreational sports funding is misinformed.

Nelson said TCSU could not have retained money from a salary freeze because it was not allocated money for a salary increase. He also said Boynton gave compelling evidence for increased funds in an oral presentation.

“Looking at his decision, I wonder if he knows what he’s talking about,” Nelson said.

Reversing fees committee decisions is rare and not something taken lightly, Rinehart said.

“The really important thing is the student-driven process and voice be the primary element (in the fees process) because it is their money,” he said. “For the administration to intervene capriciously is something we want to avoid if at all possible.”

Student groups fees committee Chairman Lindsay Brown was not available for comment Tuesday.

In a March 24 interview, Brown expressed his dismay about the administration’s power over the fees committee.

“The administration has the authority to change anything the committee did, which is the scary part of this whole thing,” he said.

Fees adviser Aaron Asmundson said the last time the administration reversed a fees committee’s decision was during the 2001-02 school year when Jones, former University vice president and executive vice provost for faculty and academic programs, reversed cuts to the Black Student Union and TCSU.

This is the first year Rinehart has made a fees funding decision.