Limited to 90 seconds per person, University students had a chance to address the Student Services Fees Committee on Wednesday in the first of three public hearings this week.
With nearly 100 people crowding into 131 Murphy Hall, members of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, the theatre group Crisis Point, Twin Cities Unions and Recreation Sports attended en masse to commend the fees committee in its Feb. 26 recommendations.
However, nearly half of the students spoke in turn against the reasoning the committee used in some of its recommendations, particularly regarding Como Community Childcare, Africana Student Cultural Center and the Minnesota Student Association.
MSA, whose proposed budget was reduced to $10,000 after the committee removed a number of grants from its auspices, fought for its right to distribute one such item, the Diversity Events Fund.
“I think it’s necessary to keep DEF grants in MSA,” said Katheryn Kjerste Reich, a College of Liberal Arts senior and former MSA member. “MSA is the primary voice for students on campus.”
Reich also argued that the fees committee is not authorized to transfer the grant to the Council of College Board.
“Not only was it wrong for student services fees (committee), but also hurtful for the campus,” Reich said.
Africana President Mark Holder defended his group regarding the late submission of its budget request to the fees committee. The fees committee issued a warning to Africana regarding its incomplete request forms, stating that it might affect future requests.
“I am outraged and horrified with the (fees committee’s) treatment of Africana,” said biochemistry senior and Africana member Amanda Perlman. “The fees committee has no right to impose punishment on any group.”
However, Students Against Fees Excess President Tim Lee spoke against previous Africana actions. Distributing copies of an Africana advertisement, which protested reduction in authority of University Vice President of Student Development McKinley Boston, Lee said he refused to pay for Africana’s political activity through his fees.
“For an organization that is suppose to be dedicated to diversity, this kind rhetoric is unnecessary,” Lee said.
Another group receiving a budget cut was Como Community Childcare, whose members appeared before the fees committee to show the importance of their organization to the University.
“It’s very early in the process,” said Sabeen Altaf, fees subcommittee chairwoman and graduate student in public affairs. “It is definitely encouraging to either support or voice against the funding decision.”
Raiza Beltran covers student life and student government and welcomes comments [email protected]