Student Fee Committee meets to hear student-fee funded unit presentations

Photo By Jade Webster
Rachel Josephson, ASOSU president, and Drew Desilet, ASOSU faculty advisor, during the SFC unit presentations.

Morgan Mawn, News Contributor

Correction: This article was previously unclear regarding the HSRC decision packages and dollar amounts. Additionally, Nicole Hindes’ name was misspelled. These issues have been resolved. The Barometer regrets the errors. 

Editor’s note: The Daily Barometer is part of Student Experiences and Engagement, one of the student fee-funded units discussed in this story.

The Student Fee Committee and community members came together Sunday morning, through the evening, to hear proposed  student fee-level packages from each of the 8 student fee-funded units, and to hear about what each unit does to further student success. Oregon State University students pay fees for each term they attend OSU.

SFC members discussed decision package summaries from Associated Students of Oregon State University programs, the Family Resource Center, Human Services Resource Center, Intercollegiate Athletics, the Memorial Union, performing arts, recreational sports and Student Experiences and Engagement. No official votes took place during the meeting. Instead, members focused on understanding the content of each unit’s presented decision packages. On Monday, the SFC will hold a deliberation session, followed by an open hearing on Monday, Dec. 2. After the open hearing, ASOSU will hold a congressional joint session, at which they will decide whether to pass or fail the proposed student fee levels for the 2020-21 fiscal year. A pass sends the suggested fee levels to the ASOSU president, then OSU President Ed Ray and the Board of Trustees for final approval or disapproval, while a fail sends the proposed fee levels to mediation.

Safi Ahmad, fourth-year industrial engineering major and ASOSU student fee comittee chair, opened the meeting and briefly introduced ASOSU, the first program to present decision packages.

Uwe Keist, ASOSU student advisory board vice chair, presented the main programs and impact of ASOSU on campus. The four main sections of ASOSU presented were student government, the Office of Advocacy, Safe Ride and legal services. 

“The congress and student fee committee plays an important role in advocating student voices,” Keist said.

According to Keist, 58% of academic misconduct involves international students; however, international students make up only 11% of the total OSU student population. 

“This shows there’s a lot of impact on these communities due to the cultural differences these students face,” Keist said.

The Office of Advocacy strives to ensure students know about their rights, and services they can access should these rights be violated, Keist said. For this reason, he believes they may be able to make a difference in the issues international students, and many other student groups, encounter. Similarly, ASOSU also utilizes a legal services branch to provide representation for students despite their financial circumstances. 

Data collected over the course of the past school year shows that most Safe Ride pick-ups and drop-offs occur on campus. According to Keist, one can infer this means students using the service are academically focused.

“It’s more than a drunk bus,” Keist said.

Following the presentation on the importance of ASOSU programs, Keist presented the fee decision package summaries. The three packages presented all requested increases in budget that would create a total 3.07% increase of the ASOSU total budget from last year. Decision package one requested an increased budget to compensate student volunteers within congress. A package was also created to request an increased budget to better pay critical positions within the department. The third and final decision package regarding ASOSU asked for $10,021 to aid in bringing different cultural groups on campus to formulate initiatives.

The unofficial roll-call vote was in favor of a budget increase of 3.07%, or a dollar change of $0.71.

The recreational sports committee presented a breakdown of department resource allocations and justifications for their request to increase their total budget.

Services offered by the department include Dixon Recreational Center, climbing centers and pools to name a few. Students visiting and utilizing these sources are asked to swipe their school identification cards. Based on data collected over the past school year, it was found that just under a million swipes were recorded throughout their programs.

Lexi Schlosser, member of the recreational sports committee, said she utilizes the climbing centers on campus very often.

“Many of our services are really important for our students’ well-being. It gives them that sense of community,” Schlosser said

Matthew McMillan, member of the recreational sports committee, said the access to personal trainers, equipment and other services at Dixon Recreation Center have allowed him to build an effective workout regimen.

“[This regimen] helps me stay focused in the classroom, feel better about myself and sleep better at night,” McMillan said.

According to the committee, 25% of student fees are allocated to pay of the four hundred student employees within their programs. Due to budget difficulties, three positions have already had to be cut. 

Recreational sports also aims to provide inclusive spaces for marginalized committees. One program currently being developed provides times and locations for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to have a safe space to use pools. They have also worked with Dam Diverse to put together inclusive climb nights.

The committee has requested an additional 3.02% budget increase along with the proposed 3% in the decision package.  The additional amount would be used to maintain their service levels and account for changes such as increasing employee pay. The committee members pointed out that budget changes due to a drop in student enrollment will be dealt with internally.

SFC members unofficially voted in favor of the decision package of an increase of 3%, a $2.85 fee increase per student per term.

The Family Resource Center presented three decision packages to compensate for the challenges they say they face today and budget difficulties they expect to see in the future. 

Laurie Lutes, a student and parent, said she chose OSU specifically because of the unique child care programs offered. OSU is the only college in the PAC-12 that offers free infant child care.

“It’s been really instrumental for me. Supporting [student parents] as a student and as a parent is very vital,” Lutes said.

FRC offers free, three-hour child care at both Dixon Recreation Center and the Valley Library. For those in need of longer-term child care, Beaver Beginnings and Azalia are both on-campus and able to care for a child for a longer period of time. However, both programs are experiencing wait list issues. Currently, 10 parents are waiting for childcare for an infant and 12 for a toddler. 

The first and third decision packages presented requested an increase in budget to accommodate the current drop in student enrollment and the projected future drop in enrollment. The third decision package requests an increase to allow the program to offer more aid to high-need student parents. The program aims to be able to cover 50% of childcare costs for 30 high-need students, but can currently only meet that goal for seven students. Passing all three packages would result in a total 3% larger budget, resulting in a student fee of $11.37 in fall, winter and spring terms, and $4.34 in summer.

“I find it disappointing this even needs to be justified,” David Park, ASOSU member-at-large said in reference to the FRC having to present to ask for a higher budget. 

The unofficial vote to increase the budget passed unanimously, with one SFC member choosing to abstain from voting due to conflict of interest. 

Angel Mandujano-Guevara, a graduate student employed at the Human Services Resource Center, said food insecurity can make a student 15 times more likely to fail a class, and emphasized the need to address food and housing insecurity issues and stigmas on campus. 

“You can’t budget money better when you don’t have enough money to begin with,” Mandujano-Guevara said.

According to the HSRC, 22% of students at OSU are currently full-time or part-time students and employees to be able to afford the bare minimum, which likely decreases their academic performance.

These students have reached out to HSRC in growing numbers. From the past school year, HSRC has seen a growth of 47% more unique users utilizing resources at the HSRC. Staff have already restocked the food pantry multiple times this term. In week zero of this term, the center helped 150 students with getting textbooks within the first hour of opening.

Mandujano-Guevara said the small team the HSRC is financially able to employ has difficulty replying to struggling students efficiently. Staff members at the HSRC help many students fill out applications for different food security aid programs, such as MealBux and SNAP. MealBux can offer students up to $80 for on campus meal purchases while SNAP, a federal program, can offer up to $2300 for groceries.

“It’s prudent we invest in helping our students with this application,” Nicole Hindes, assistant director at HSRC, said. 

To battle food insecurity, HSRC proposed four decision packages. In total, the program requests an annual student fee of $12.74 to maintain operations. The group also presented four decision packages that would request additional fees. Decision package one asks for an additional $1.06 per student to expand existing programs and efficiency. The second package requires an addition of $0.64 per student to officially endorse SNAP as a resource for students. Decision package three desires an additional $0.34 per student to allow the program to hire more staff members and provide paid internships. The fourth and final package aims to expand the MealBux budget, which saw a 27 percent student application increase this year, through a requested additional $0.40 per student.

The unofficial vote found SFC members unanimously in favor of the increased fee, with one member choosing to abstain from the vote.

The Memorial Union prepared three decision packages to present regarding increasing reserve funds, creating free audio and visual services for MU space rentals and a request for a fund balance restoration. The current annual student fee alloted for the MU is $58.54 in fall, winter and spring. Should all three decision packages pass, this fee will increase by 3% to $65.03. Summer fees would go from $47.96 to $49.40.

Performing arts then presented their two proposed decision packages centered around alleviating costs toward students and pay of staff. The first package aims to increase their funds, so providing free tickets to students is still feasible. The second aims to receive funds to allow pay to the liaison between performing arts and ASOSU. If their decision packages pass, the annual student fee in the fall, winter and spring will increase from $6.97 to $7.18, with no fees during the summer term.

Intercollegiate athletics then discussed their only decision package: a request to increase funds to account for decreasing enrollment. This increase would lead to a rise from $40.71 to $41.93, with no fees in the summer.

Finally, Student Experiences and Engagement had one decision package to present that asked for increased funding for student organization resources for Community Engagement, a program with a focus on building relationships between OSU and the Corvallis community and supporting student organizations. This decision package would involve a 2.2% change, or $2 per student per term.

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