Students sound off on initial fees recommendations

A 10-member panel heard students’ opinions throughout the public hearing in Coffman Union.

by Kori Koch

Members of University student groups took two-minute turns addressing the Student Services Fees Committee on Tuesday during the first of two public hearings.

A 10-member panel, led by Student Organizations Committee Chairman Steve Wang, heard students’ opinions throughout the public hearing in Coffman Union Theater.

Individual students and students representing a variety of organizations voiced comments and concerns about the committee’s initial funding recommendations proposed for the 2005-06 academic year.

Elsa Khwaja, a third-year University student, said, “It’s an effective opportunity for students to have the panel hear many perspectives. Anyone can speak for or against the funding of any organization.”

Wang said there was an expected number of students at the first hearing. He urged student group members to attend such events because it is the best way to reach committee members.

Some students thanked the committee, while others asked it to reconsider initial funding recommendations, which were published online Tuesday.

Student groups presented their original proposals to the committee in early February.

Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, a La Raza Student Cultural Center member, said it’s important for the committee to take cultural organizations seriously.

“For many (cultural organizations), it’s the bread and butter of our funding,” he said.

Laxmi Krishnan, member of the Asian-American Student Union, said the hearing allowed group members to clarify information about their organization’s original proposal.

Mai Vang, vice president of the Hmong Minnesota Student Association, said the entire initial funding recommendation for her group couldn’t cover the cost of the group’s first event and largest event.

According to the 2005-06 initial funding recommendations, the group would receive $41,500 less than it requested.

John Reynolds, a member of the American Indian Student Cultural Center, said he would have liked more time to speak. The center was recommended $24,467 less than it requested.

The second student organization public hearing will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the St. Paul Student Center commons.

The committee will meet Friday to make final funding adjustments before its recommendations are passed onto Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs.