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The fate of student fees

Weber State University’s Student Fee Recommendation Committee met Friday to hear campus organizations’ requests for support from student fees.

This year, a series of clubs, organizations, departments and other on-campus groups  asked for approximately $200,000. The SFRC, however, has only  $159,000 to allocate.

During the meeting, student groups came one by one, from Counseling and Psychological Services to the Multicultural Student Center, to request increases in funding in order to pay staff and buy supplies.

“One of the best things about the SFRC is they can come with all of their insights,” said Kyle Braithwaite, co-chair of the SFRC. “Each one of these presentations is done by a professional whose whole life is dedicated, or at least their current life is dedicated, to this area, such as the Multicultural Student Center or the Services for Students with Disabilities, whatever it may be.”

Increase in student enrollment and participation were major concerns cited in almost every case as the reason for the funding requests. Each of the requests were heard and met with the approving opinions of many members of the committee. This made the job of the committee members more difficult as they decided how to divvy up limited funds.

“I don’t think the job of SFRC is to be critical necessarily of their needs,” Braithwaite said, “but to assess how do we give them enough of what they need with the limited amount of money we have.”

Much of what was being requested by various groups involved the hiring of staff members and updating computer systems.

Several groups asked for money for new software and hardware for computers, including the Multicultural Student Center and the Nontraditional Student Center.

“They’ll crash in the middle of a student’s paper or somewhere in the middle of a test. It’s been really hard,” said Debbie Cragun, coordinator for the Nontraditional Student Center.

In terms of student fee increases, they normally increase by about 3 percent each year. However, there is a new proposal to add a 1.5 percent increase on top of that in order to fund an expansion of the west side of the gym for student recreation. No solid designs or construction plans are to be made until funding is approved. Any increase to student fees if this plan were approved would amount to $5 per student per semester.

Jan Winniford, vice president for Student Affairs, talked more about the process of the SFRC. Winniford has served on the committee for many years and has a lot of experience dealing with budgetary concerns.

“I’ve been very impressed with this year’s committee,” Winniford said. “They seem very thoughtful and ask good questions, so we always appreciate the students’ time and dedication to being very good stewards of the students’ money and taking this job very seriously.”

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