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S&A fee decision tabled, voting to take place Nov. 29

Alea Thorne, Staff Reporter - November 15, 2012

The Student and Activities (S&A) Committee decided Wednesday to table the decision of voting for or against the amount being taken from S&A funds for the new 2013 administrative fee. The decision should be made at S&A’s next meeting on Nov. 28.

This past May, the S&A committee held a private meeting, which should have been public. The Vice President of Student Affairs, George Clark, asked students and faculty, including Observer News Editor Santos Herrera, to leave the meeting in which the committee reached an agreement and accepted the revised unit-based methodology, the amount of money to be taken out of the funds, stirring up controversy across campus.

“That meeting should have been open public meeting, it was not, it was closed to the public, some students I understand expressed desire for advice that was not provided,” Jon Ferguson Central attorney said.

Due to the flawed voting process, the University is requesting another meeting in order to ratify and reaffirm the previous vote. The Board of Trustees (BOT) wanted to take $600 million out of direct S&A fees to support the administrative fee.

“You can’t just take one way or the other,” Taylor Robb, former S&A member said. “But don’t necessarily uphold everything.

Robb pleaded to the committee that the members don’t have to uphold every part of the fee, but can choose what they like.

The fee was to be taken from the self-supporting programs, from services such as dining and housing, and to allocate administrative overhead costs to each programs’ individual budget. The fee would affect 20 overhead services. According to the S&A statue, the fee is supposed to fund directly related student activities and programs at their universities.

“This affects 9,800 students, just here,” Robb said. “Just so you understand the depth of this, you hold in your hand the fate of what happens to the money that can support these students and various funds and organizations.”

Student Vice President of Academic Affairs Jenifer Aldridge, explained how she has witnessed the need for reinvesting money into the university itself. With new professors going into academic areas that are not necessarily money-seeking departments, such as religious studies and philosophy, but are needed for students to complete their general education requirements. Also, students who are in their upper division classes are struggling to get into the classes they need to graduate due to overfilled classes.

“We are not only hurting in our academics with our not-so-affluent departments just making it by, but those who are affluent, nutrition and sciences, they can’t graduate on time because they cannot get into their required classes because class sizes are too large and they don’t have professors for them,” Aldridge said. “So my word of caution is, I’m not for or against it because it’s a little above my head, but I do know that the money has to come from somewhere, and if you vote this down first, what is this money for and where is this money going to come from?”

According to Ferguson, the duty of the University is to provide an opportunity for affordable education. Last year, however, Central decided to increase the tuition for 2013 to the maximum amount of 14 percent. Even though the University decided to increase the tuition and created an admin fee, Central still has a reserved $6.3 million in surplus, which has not been touched to accommodate for emergency situations.

“If the University has $6.3 million in surplus why is it coming to this community and asking to increase the student S&A fee?” Ferguson asked. “Does it really need $700,000 in students S&A fees?”

Part of the reason the S&A committee is having trouble deciding is because it fears that if they don’t make a decision, or decide against the admin fee, the BOT will make it for them.

“If we decide to hard ball anyone, how would the reaction of the Board of Trustees and the administration of the University, how would they react to us?” K.J. Stilling, ASCWU president said. “Will they continue to give us the opportunity to be seen at the table? Will they continue to include us in discussion? Will they continue to consider what we think and will they continue to make good faith efforts to recognize that there may have been a flaw in the dispute resolution and to acknowledge that and to request that it be ratified?”

Community member and meeting attendee Sarah Guthrie believes the BOT will make the right decision and allow the S&A Committee to exercise its vote.

“You said something roughly around the lines of, if you choose to vote, they will do it anyways, and I for one do not believe it’s true. I believe the Board of Trustees is accountable to the legislature,” Guthrie said. “The legislature will want to know why, for the first time, they did not listen to the Central students. You have the power, don’t give it away; make an informed decision.”

In the end, the committee’s decision will greatly impact the university as a whole, as well as the extended university sites.

“College isn’t just books, it’s about the life that you learn, it’s about learning how to question, and there are lots of programs outside of curriculum that is just as important to your transformation to the adult world,” Guthrie said.

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