Process of allocating student fees begins
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:02
University of Toledo undergraduates pay over $500 in fees per semester, and the process that helps determine where the money will go next year is underway.
Student Government leaders will appoint other students to a committee to assess how general fees should be allocated for the following year’s budget. The committee listens to presentation put on by all the departments funded by student fees, discusses how to allocate the money, and send a recommendation to the administration.
How it works
Kaye Patten Wallace, vice president for the student experience, said the committee is comprised of diverse students who will represent the student body as a whole.
“The committee is comprised of the student government president and vice president, student senate chair, and I think student government appoints four other students to the process,” Wallace said. “Then we ask them to make the appointments; we ask them to make sure that there’s diversity in terms of size of student organization, diversity in terms of goals and purposes of student organizations.”
Wallace said the committee should be focused on what is best for all students.
“I remind them that they should be looking at this process and their decisions based on what’s best for the whole, the larger group as opposed from the individual student organization or personal perspective,” she said.
Paul Brandt, a junior majoring in construction engineering technology, said he doesn’t think the current process is transparent enough. He said he wants to be informed about what decisions the general fees committee is making.
“The big thing I’m interested in is information,” Brandt said. “I’m passionate about UT, I love UT. And UT is doing all these changes but nobody knows anything. That’s what irritates me.”
Brandt spoke at a previous SG meeting voicing his concern about the lack of attention towards student issues like the student fees.
Student Government President Paulette Bongratz said the allocation process is done by a committee because there would be too many voices to consider if the entire student body gave their opinion.
“I think it’s best for the people that are in the room listening to the presentations, looking at the budgets to make those decisions,” Bongratz said. “Without giving every student all of that information, they could vote on what they want, but they couldn’t give an accurate, even depiction.”
Bongratz said understanding how to allocate the budget is complicated and the amount of deficit is difficult to comprehend.
“I think it’s hard for every student to understand the fiscal deficit,” Bongratz said. “As a business student, I think I have the luxury of studying and understanding it a little bit better and to me it’s mind boggling.”
Marcia Culling, senior business manager for the department of student affairs, helps the committee with understanding how to allocate money and a general understanding of UT’s budget.
“We have an initial meeting, I pass out materials,” Culling said. “They are told they can come see me at any time if they have questions and want to go over it. Often they do take advantage of that.”
Former SG president Matt Rubin said when he headed up the general fee committee in 2011 and 2012, he felt well prepared to allocate the budget after speaking with Culling.
“I think we had some kind of a preparation meeting or some kind of training beforehand,” Rubin said. “I think it was an adequate amount of training on the part of student affairs.”
Culling said students are encouraged to come to the presentations made by departments requesting funds.
“The hearings are open so any student can attend the hearing and give feedback to the committee,” Culling said.
Bongratz said it is important for students, and not administration, to decide what they pay for.
“If it’s the students’ money, we want the students to make those decisions, not administration to make them,” Bongratz said. “We want their guidance to understand and make sure that we’re fully comprehending the decision that we’re making. But with student money, I think it’s best for students to make that decision.”
Culling explained the committee is not actually allocating the money, but recommending how it is allocated and a process takes place where amendments can be made by the vice president for student affairs and the president. The final draft then goes to the Board of Trustees for approval.
“Often the recommendation goes forward as is; there’s no changes,” Culling said.
Wallace said most of the time she does not see a need for changes, and when she does, a full explanation is given before any amendments are made.
Brandt said he would like easier access to budgetary information.
“Why do I have to hunt it down?” Brandt said. “Why is the breakdown of this no on some link on the myUT portal of your bill?”
Rubin said it would be ideal if the information was presented to students in an easy-to-read format.
“I think it would be a lot easier for students to understand if it was presented a little bit differently,” Rubin said. “I think if there was some online web component where you could see exactly how everyting breaks down — I think that’d be great.”