USG passes new constitution Wednesday

By Gus Bode

Senators weigh 4 revised fee increases

Instead of hearing about the student fee increases proposed for the 2006-07 school year, the Undergraduate Student Government listened Wednesday as Larry Dietz explained why the already approved 2005-06 fee increases need to be raised even higher.

Dietz, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, told the senate that the adjusted increases for next year’s per-semester student fees will go toward the student activity fund, the Recreation Center and the Student Center – a jump of more than $30 collectively. There is also a proposal to increase the costs of living in the residence halls by nearly $400 per semester.

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The senate sought more clarity for the revised fee increases and will come to a position on the proposal at its next meeting March 9.

The hike stems from a nearly $1 million shortfall from services that were previously state-funded. In the past, the departments collectively paid $125,000 for the supplementary services, which include human resources, payroll and accounting services.

Under the state’s Legislative Audit Commission guidelines, the departments, which are considered auxiliary, should not use state-appropriated dollars for supplementary service. Auxiliary departments are those not pertaining directly to academics, such as the Student Center and Recreation Center.

In January, the Daily Egyptian reported that the University would seek to recover the shortage by increasing student fees and self-generated revenue.

“There aren’t a lot of places to go whenever we try to balance the budget other than through tuition and fees,” Dietz told the senate.

Although the University is not in trouble with the state audit, Dietz said, “We are out of compliance with the spirit and intent of the legislative audit commission.”

Questions mainly were directed at Dietz, but some representatives of the fee-based departments were on hand, including Cheryl Presley, director of Student Health Programs, and T.J. Rutherford, director of the Student Center.

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Dietz said other universities in the state are going through similar financial strains also and must resort to higher tuition and fees.

“Honestly, none of these units, including this facility, would exist without the commitment of students,” Dietz said. “We know this is not specifically in the classroom, but they are needed services that we’re willing to pay for.”

Over a two-year period, the University plans to pay the almost $2 million expenses incurred from the audit commission guidelines, which means additional increases in student fees for the 2006-07 school year.

“To absorb $2 million in one year is a heck of a lot, so what we would rather do is to phase this in,” Dietz said.

The Board of Trustees will vote on both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 fee proposals in May.

The Graduate and Professional Student Council may vote on the fee proposals at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mississippi Room of the Student Center.

GPSC president Amy Sileven said she sensed opposition to some of the increase proposals at the Feb. 15 meeting.

At the USG meeting, student trustee Ed Ford reminded the senate it had voted against fee increases in the fall and voiced his concern that the group did not seem resistant to these increases.

“I think your message was being misinterpreted,” Ford warned the senators.

Reporter Jane Huh can be reached at [email protected]

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