Selection process begins for this year’s student fees committee

A field of 64 applicants will be pared down to a total of 22 members.

Jenna Wilcox

Student Services Fees Committee applications closed Friday afternoon after 64 students applied for the positions responsible for doling out more than $28 million in student services fees.

The SSFC is responsible for reviewing the fees applications of all registered student groups applying for student services fees. Larger units like Boynton Health Service and Student Unions and Activities all go through this process in order to gain funding.

For the next week the Student Members Selection Committee, along with SSFC advisor Megan Sweet, will pore over these applications to narrow the pool down by roughly half.

âÄúOur primary criteria is that [candidates] understand the overall cost, the concept of neutrality, are unbiased and are able to approach the fees process in a fair and mutual manner,âÄù Sweet said.

Applicants were asked to list any activities they are currently involved in and explain their understanding of viewpoint neutrality âÄî a fundamental concept in the fees process.

âÄúWe really do try to make the pool as diverse as possibleâÄù Sweet said.

Currently, the focus is simply narrowing down the pool of applicants. The 64 applications need to be reviewed and analyzed by only five individuals âÄì Sweet, two Minnesota Student Association members, and two Graduate and Professional Student Assembly representatives.

The Administrative Unit Fees Committee is comprised of six student representatives, while the Student Organization Fees Committees has nine students. Two administrative representatives serve on each committee. Eight alternates âÄî four for each committee âÄî will round out the total of 22 members needed.

Interviews will be conducted Oct. 6-9 to help get a better understanding of the candidates. From there, Sweet and the selection committee will present their recommendations to MSA and GAPSA in a joint meeting Oct. 19. The two have the final word on who makes it onto the committee.

Misunderstanding of rules during the joint forum last year delayed the organizationsâÄô approval of the fees committee until late November.

Both GAPSA and MSA are allowed to remove two individuals from the committee.

This year, in order to prevent delays, there will be a rules meeting Oct. 12 to confirm that both groups have a clear understanding of how the meeting will be conducted according to the guidelines of the SSFC.

âÄúThere needs to be clarity about the process and procedure,âÄù Sweet said.

The selection process is only one of the concerns facing the committee this year. A new appeals process for groups that were not recommended the amount of funding they requested ran into problems last year, mainly with the lengthy appeals process.

Last year the Black Student UnionâÄôs appeals meeting date was pushed back nearly two weeks.

 âÄúWe were sitting here wondering what was going on because we didnâÄôt hear anything back whether or not we were granted an appeal meeting,âÄù BSU President Arsenio Ward previously told the Minnesota Daily.

Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists President India Burton told the Daily her group had similar problems with the process. Burton said CASH was supposed to meet with the SSFC before the appeals process, but a meeting was never scheduled.

âÄúI feel like weâÄôve been spanning this out,âÄù Burton said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt need to be dragged out this long.âÄù

The SSFC faces even further criticism from students in regards to not being an accurate representation of the student body, unequally distributing funds and recently for too closely following regulations.

âÄúIf applying groups follow the rules, the committee is virtually powerless to deny or reduce a request,âÄù University alumnus Robert Westcott said in a letter to the Daily earlier this month.

âÄúThis has opened the door for a record number of groups to come to the fees committee for requests.âÄù

Westcott wrote student groups are now catching on to this flaw in the system and making enormous requests knowing that there is at least a chance they will be granted.

However, Sweet said the claim âÄúis not consistent with the fees process itself.âÄù The committee is charged to use 13 different criteria when reviewing requests and can use any of those criteria.

âÄúThe charge says that they are powerless; however the handbook and rules prescribe otherwise,âÄù Sweet said.