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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Frank compromises on scope of SFRB

051214_boardofregentsmeeting_wa
By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

ASUNM President Isaac Romero and GPSA President Priscila Poliana speak with Board of Regents member James H. Koch during a Regents meeting in the SUB on Friday. Romero and Poliana spoke in favor of UNM President Robert Frank’s new SFRB plan.

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President Robert Frank struck a compromise with student government that returned University Libraries and the Athletics Department to the Student Fee Review Board’s purview.

While addressing the Board of Regents on Friday, Frank said communication with the Associated Student of the University of New Mexico and the Graduate and Professional Student Association had improved and a new agreement had been reached.

“We’ve improved the SFRB dialogue,” Frank said. “Key points in that dialogue will be that in the whole process, students will be fully engaged, libraries and athletics will be back in. We’ll work on this. After budget FY17 process we’ll review it, see where we’re at, how happy we are and how we can improve it.”

ASUNM and GPSA petitioned for greater involvement in SFRB reform, because Frank decided to remove recommendations on Athletics and Libraries from the board’s reach late last month.

Frank wrote a statement detailing a proposed compromise and return to previous conditions to ASUNM President Isaac Romero. The letter was delivered Friday morning, a few hours before the Board of Regents meeting.

The proposed changes include an acceleration of the SFRB process, with the deadline for budget recommendations moved from Feb. 15 to Dec. 1 of each year, according to the statement. A second change requires more extensive research be submitted with each recommendation.

This system will be implemented for the next two years, after which parties involved will review it and decide whether it needs to be reformed further, Frank said.

Romero said he was content with the compromise, which passed Friday morning, just in time for its presentation at the Board of Regents meeting.

“I’m very pleased with the final outcome of the past several weeks,” Romero said. “Priscila (Poliana, GPSA president) and I met with (Frank) and had a discussion with him, and that led to another discussion this morning where he finally decided that he would give us this opportunity to continue trying to figure out ways to make the SFRB process better.”

The main component of the new plan is that the SFRB will have to meet Frank’s advanced deadline for recommendations. This should be a great way to retain student voices in the fee review process, while at the same time satisfying the administration, he said.

The Board of Regents will not be able to affect this new SFRB process during its two-year trial term, Romero said.

“This is a topic that is concerning the students and the administration,” Romero said. “The regents may provide some insight some way in which they might say, ‘Okay, this is what works for us.’ But in terms of what the actual outcome will be, we will have it for the next two years.”

Poliana said she believes the agreement demonstrates the continued presence of democratic ideals in decision-making at UNM.

“I’m very happy,” Poliana said. “I think students were victorious today.”

Poliana said Frank has made up for his earlier conduct through his presentation of such a compromise.

“I think that he’s served with due diligence by retracting a decision that had no student input,” she said. “In my view he is redeemed. I don’t need to hear anything else from him; I’m just grateful.”