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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Student Fees Commission passes recommendation to increase student fees by nearly $8 per semester

Mia Hennen
Jia Wen Wang’s gavel lies on the table as the Student Fees Committee Hearings take place on March 4. Wang serves as the student body treasurer for the Student Government Association.

After three-and-a-half hours of deliberations, the Student Fees Commission voted on a recommendation of 1.9% increase to student fees for the next academic year. This percent would equate to $7.78 per semester.

This comes after last year’s commission spent over six hours in deliberations and spent an additional two hours deliberating when they were reconvened.

The groups up for funding reallocations this year were Cultural Ambassadors Program, debate club, Disability Support Services, Multicultural Student Mentoring Program, the Ulrich Museum, the Child Development Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Student Accommodations and Testing, the Rhatigan Student Center, and four different scholarship and grant program.

Each student support service is required to go in front of the commission every three years in order to secure a portion of the student fees. 

The debate club, Historically Underrepresented Student Grants, and Non-Traditional Student Scholarship all received less than their initial request.

Trinity Ramm

Rhatigan Student Center allocation

After an attempt to use Student Government Association’s Special Projects and Capital Fund for funding repairs and to decrease the RSC’s allocation by over $200,000, the Student Fees Commission voted to fully fund the Rhatigan at $2.7 million.

The RSC was first funded by student fees when it was built in 1959 and continues to be funded by a portion of student fees every year.

The commission initially had reservations about funding the full amount because they were focused on maintenance requests listed in the RSC’s budget. The roof maintenance and other repairs are not a part of the RSC budget, but instead will need to be approved by the RSC Board of Directors to come out of their own capital fund. 

Devin Moore, at-large commissioner, attempted to move to ask the Student Senate to use part of their Special Projects and Capital Fund to fund the roof repairs in the Rhatigan. 

This would require that someone write a bill that outlines a certain amount from the Special Projects and Capital Fund be given to the RSC for these repairs. It would then have to be passed by the Senate in order for the RSC to receive those funds.

Additionally, if the commission saved student fee money by taking it away from the RSC, Gabriel Fonseca, SGA adviser, said that future student governments would “be on the hook” for that.

Fonseca said that the commission “cannot and should not gamble anything that you cannot eventually control.”

As the committee went into recess before the second round of allocations, Teri Hall, vice president for student affairs, approached Sophie Martins, student body vice president, and emphasized the importance of funding the RSC more money by saying that people will lose their jobs and that operations will change if the RSC does not receive its full request.

At the beginning of the session following this recess, Matthew Phan, an engineering commissioner, made a motion to allocate the RSC’s full request.

“I was concerned that, by cutting into the operations, we would have to cut into the hours and jobs in the RSC could be impacted by this,” Phan said. “This would negatively impact all the students that come through the RSC, and it’s one of the bigger employers that we have on our campus.”

Martins backed this sentiment, saying that the commission was “honing in” on the maintenance portion of the RSC’s request. She said giving them the full amount would be “getting them to even for what they have to pay for.” 

The full RSC funding request of $2.7 million passed unanimously.

Athletic Department presentation

After hearings were complete on Tuesday, Kevin Saal, director of athletics, came before the commission to speak about the athletic department and how it plans on spending its student fee dollars allocated by the university.

The department is receiving a $5.3 million increase from the university, according to Saal’s presentation.

The department currently receives 20% of all student fees. With the increase from the university, it will be a 17% increase for students.

The Student Fees Committee is not in charge of allocating any amount to the athletic department and only gave feedback to Saal.

“At the end of the day, we truly believe that we are here to serve our students and our student athletes, specifically within athletics,” Saal said. “Our mission is very specific: we are here to develop young people and programs.”

Saal gave a nearly identical presentation to this body as he had to the Kansas Board of Regents, the public, the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate about the state of the athletic department and improvements they were looking to make.

He emphasized the Shocker Way, a set of tenets that Saal said are “the way (the athletic department) lives and breathes.”

When talking about how much exposure the athletic department gives the university, Saal cited a 2014 study from Wichita State’s department of sport management about how much media coverage for the university increased after men’s basketball’s 2013 Final Four run.

The study estimated that the exposure generated by print, broadcast and digital avenues would generate over $555 million in value.

After Saal’s presentation, a number of commissioners brought up concerns about how much the athletic department truly serves students. 

Jia Wen Wang, student body treasurer, asked Saal about how he would justify the fee increase to the student body when they don’t see the direct effects of that money.

After Saal emphasized how student fee money is used internally, Wang rephrased her question to ask what the athletic departments provides “for students that are not athletes on this campus, other than exposure.”

“It provides some campus life, some events to go to,” Saal said. “I think it provides overall value to the university. I think it provides value from an alumni, donor, community, season ticket holder engagement perspective.”

Iris Okere, student body president, asked commissioners via Martins to reach out to her with their own opinions, whether positive or negative, regarding the student fee allocation increase to athletics.

Child Development Center decrease

In what Hall said is an effort to take the burden off of student fees, the Child Development Center (CDC) requested and received a $50,000 cut to their student fees allocation.

Jillian Hoefer, director of the CDC, said the CDC would like to “stay stagnant” in their budget but that the center can manage with a decrease.

The Child Development Center has historically funded both student jobs and their “sliding scale fee,” which provides a discount to students taking at least six credit hours and provides a further discount to students based on the expected family contribution.

In addition to the initial decrease, the commission voted to decrease CDC’s allocation by $50,000 each fiscal year starting next year until they are up for review again.

These allocations will go to the Student Senate for approval in April and will need approval from the university and the Kansas Board of Regents before they go into effect.

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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