Hearing on recommended fee allocations draws mixed reviews

Emily Ayshford

Comments varied from pleas to thank yous as the Student Services Fees Committee held its first public hearing Tuesday.

Audience members signed up to voice their concerns to the committee for a minute and a half but could only comment on one group during their times. The committee members were not allowed to speak during the hearing.

Several attendees spoke in support of The Wake, a biweekly student newspaper started last year, which was denied funding.

Chris Ruen, co-founder and co-editor of The Wake, expressed concern that the committee compared his newspaper to The Minnesota Daily.

“We want to provide a new way for students to participate and relate to campus,” Ruen said. “We don’t aim to compete with the Daily.”

Several students stood up to thank the committee for cutting funds for certain student groups.

“MSA has never shown itself to be a viable student government,” said Martin Andrade, a University junior and Minnesota Student Association member. The committe recommended an approximately $71,000 cut to MSA’s funding request.

MSA President Josh Colburn thanked Andrade for his comments.

“We are very changed from what we used to be,” Colburn said.

Several people also spoke to thank the committee for cutting Daily funding by approximately $47,000 in initial recommendations.

Junior Martin Wingard – chairman of the separate Administrative Fees Committee – compared the Daily with two communist newspapers he held up at the hearing.

“Why do we have to fund the Daily for communist garbage when we can get it for free?” he asked.

Jessica Thompson, the Daily’s managing editor, said Daily reporters are trained to be objective and balanced.

“We refuse to print stories that don’t meet these standards,” Thompson said. “The Daily’s opinions and letters sections are an open forum for the University where we purposefully pick submissions that reflect a broad range of viewpoints on campus.”

Joe McKenzie, the Daily’s business manager, said a miscommunication with the paper’s budget request caused the request to be approximately $70,000 less than it was meant to be. McKenzie said the current fees recommendation would force the Daily to cut at least 15 positions.

Disability Services director Bobbi Cordano said the Disabled Student Cultural Center deserved more money than the almost 50 percent cut the committee recommended.

“This would cripple the work that they are trying to do,” Cordano said.

The Administrative Fees Committee held a hearing earlier Tuesday, but Wingard said it was “docile,” and only seven or eight people attended.

The committee, which determines fees for a handful of groups, recommended that University Student Legal Services receive $134,000 less than requested, and it cut the Boynton Health Service request by $700,000. Committee members said both cuts were because of the groups’ large financial reserves.

Dave Golden, Boynton’s public health director, said the cut would not affect services this year but he was worried Boynton would not get enough money next year.

“We’ve worked really hard to keep our chunk of the Student Services Fees down,” he said. “You hate to have that amount go up.”

Linda Aaker, University Student Legal Services director, said Monday the group has been exceptionally frugal because it wanted to save for a “rainy day.”

“I’m saying goodbye to the fruits of my efforts,” she said.

She said she was also concerned rising tuition would alter the expected enrollment multiplier, causing the service’s reserves to deplete faster.

The final fees committee public hearings will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. at the St. Paul Student Center’s Minnesota Commons room.