Student organizations speak out against proposed student fees budget

Andrew Linnabary

If proposed student fees budget cuts are approved, Mikrokosmos, WSU’s literary journal, may soon be printing their last publication. 

“This is one of the oldest creative writing programs in the nation,” said Kayla Haas, editor of Mikrokosmos. “We’re 12th oldest; it’s over 60 years old. You’re letting history and part of the literary community die,” Haas said.

Last week, the student fees committee presented their proposed budget for 2017 to Student Government Association, which will debate and decide Wednesday whether to approve the recommendations or make changes.

Mikrokosmos is one of the organizations suggested to receive zero or significantly reduced funding. The magazine’s staff received $2,700 for their budget last fiscal year. This year they requested $6,000.

“During the [student fees hearing] two weeks ago SGA had said, ‘There’s a possibility that you might not get the full amount requested. What would happen?’ And I said, ‘We would be able to maintain it, but we wouldn’t be able to expand.’ And then they completely cut it. If they had said that, my answer might have been a little different,” Haas said.

“It’s a little bit more than saying, ‘We have a three-million-dollar budget, and this $3,000 definitely has to go,’ which seems a little strange, considering the size of other budgets,” Haas said.

Mariah Smith, SGA Treasurer and member of the student fees committee, said these cuts are necessary because of an extreme reduction in credit hours.

“We weren’t so much discussing the merit of the organizations as discussing whether or not we believe, ‘Is this the correct budget area that this organization should fall into to sustain funding for the future?” Smith said. “All the decisions were made as a team. It was very difficult to be the spokesperson for the team, but most of them were group decisions and we felt very united at the end.”

Baja, an engineering car building program since the early 90s, had a budget of $22,000 last fiscal year. They requested $33,000 this year. SGA proposed that Baja be entirely defunded. Mo Khan, captain of the Baja team and a mechanical engineering senior, said Baja gets 95 percent of their funding through SGA.

“It would be very hard to recover,” Khan said. “We’re running out of external sponsors to step up our efforts,” 

Khan said Baja is one of few experiences as an engineering major where you can take classroom skills and apply them to challenges.

“This is equivalent to what you see in the industry, working collaboratively and working in a fast-paced environment,” Khan said.

Another proposed cut is to the College of Fine Arts programming, dropping from $78,000 to $35,000. Rodney Miller, dean of the college, said this proposed cut would significantly impact the fine arts department, resulting in less to work with in terms of student labor, materials for sets and costumes and career opportunities for students.

This year’s production of “Chicago” is guest directed by Stephen Copel, WSU musical theatre alumni and casting director on Broadway, Miller said. With the proposed budget cuts, the department likely won’t be able to bring Stephen back to guest direct, Miller said. 

“Having him guest direct is invaluable because it is a way for students, many of whom are aspiring professionals, to network with and get noticed by someone who is very significant in New York City,” Miller said.

 “The front door and the back door to the general public for Wichita State are athletics and fine arts. The higher the quality, the better the impression the general public has of Wichita State,” Miller said.

Eric Sexton, chair of the student fee committee, said these cuts are challenging decisions that the full Senate will review and work through Wednesday night.

“It’s a very important process. It’s important to decide how it will fit into providing a first class student experience, and I know the Senate will take that very seriously,” Sexton said.

SGA meets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to decide whether or not to approve the proposed budget.