Proposed student fees bill fails

Vice+President+Michael+Bearth+oversees+debate+on+a+proposed+1.5%25+student+fees+increase.+The+bill+ultimately+failed+and+will+be+sent+back+to+the+student+fees+committee.

Austin Shaw

Vice President Michael Bearth oversees debate on a proposed 1.5% student fees increase. The bill ultimately failed and will be sent back to the student fees committee.

Only two senators voted in favor of the proposed student fees bill at Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting.

The bill would have raised student fees by 1.5%. The only budget that was significantly cut by the proposed budget was Model UN at 10%. 

Student Body Vice President Michael Bearth justified the proposed cut by saying that the club received funding by other means as well as student fees.

At-Large Sen. Aaron Mounts is a member of Model UN.

“The Model UN team received funding from three sources — student fees, the LAS dean’s office, and our own conference we put on for high schoolers,” Mounts said. “Roughly, their budget is about $28,000 a year.”

At-Large Sen. Grant Day served as a member of the Student Fees and the Budget and Finance Committee. He encouraged the senate to reject the student fees bill.

“The budget will not increase spending by the 1.5% increase. The actual increase it’s spending is far greater,” Day said. “The reason the numbers are low are because of a series of sweeps of several reserve accounts . . . [They] took money from the reserves of several student fees recipients to make up for increased spending.”

The budget significantly swept reserves from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Formula Racing to build a contingency fund.

Senators also had problems with what organizations were and weren’t allocated all or most of their requested funds.

Engineering Sen. Matt Madden said that while he believes a 1.5% increase is a fair amount, he thinks there are better ways the budget could distribute funds. 

Madden said the Student Involvement increase was one budget he believed the committee needs to re-think.

“(I believe) we need to be cutting more from Student Involvement,” Madden said. “The Student Involvement increase is huge.

“They’re already one of the few items that are above a million dollars in spending . . . I think if the Student Fees Committee is going to fund the requested increase from Student Involvement, they need to make sure that they are funding smaller line items within equal percent . . . If you’re going to cut an increase, you need to cut it the same or somewhat proportionally.” 

Madden compared Student Involvement, which got 70% of its increase approved in the proposal, to the Formula Team, whose smaller budget got 22% of its increase approved. 

Fine Arts Sen. John Kirk, who also served on the Student Fees Committee, was one of the two senators who voted in favor of the budget. 

While Kirk acknowledged that taking reserves from other places could serve as a problem, he said the budget overall serves the greater good. He said that sending the budget back to the Student Fees Committee would possibly cause more harm than good. 

“This is how I believe we need to continue right now,” Kirk said. “We need to remember positively, but also the negative repercussions that [sending the bill back to the committee] will effect.”

The Student Fees Committee will reconvene Friday at 3 p.m. to redeliberate the budget in the Rhatigan Student Center 202. A livestream from SGA will not be available.