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Friday, December 19, 2014

Regent: More fees to Athletics

Fortner suggests $30 student fee hike despite SFRB’s recommendations

The Student Fee Review Board spent six hours this semester trying to find a way to reduce student fees, and it did, by 31 cents.

But Regent Jack Fortner said at the March 28 budget summit that the board might jack up student fees by about $30 in order to give more funding to Athletics, IT Services and UNM Libraries. He said University parties don’t want Instruction and General funds to go to Athletics, even if it’s for utility costs.

“I know some people have heartburn about that, but I don’t,” he said.
Fortner said the board is looking to offset a proposed $380,000 cut to Athletics by possibly raising student fees. The Finance and Facilities Committee will meet Monday to discuss the fee increase. Regents will make a decision Tuesday.

SFRB chair and ASUNM President Laz Cardenas said students should expect an increase in student fees.

“My reaction to it was that I wasn’t surprised, and at the same time, I was a little disappointed,” he said.

Fortner said the regents have not approved anything, and the fee increase is only a suggestion that needs to be talked about with students.

Fortner, who will meet with ASUNM, GPSA and other student groups, said he is getting feedback to pass along to Regent Don Chalmers, who is on the Finance and Facilities Committee.

“I am just one regent,” Fortner said. “And my inclination right now is to continue discussing fees, but if students don’t want it, then I can’t see how my vote would determine that.”

Cardenas said regents have students’ best interests at heart, even if fees increase.

“I think students will look at the increase, (and) I’m sure they will question a few of them,” he said. “But I think, overall, it’s going to the academic mission. Fortner said Athletics is part of the academic mission.”

GPSA president Lissa Knudsen said the regents aren’t dispersing the financial burden evenly throughout the University. She said if Athletics wants to be a part of the UNM community, it should endure funding cuts like other departments.

“Faculty and staff are going to be expected to take a cut in salary and still do the same job,” she said. “And yet, Athletics doesn’t have to abide by that. The fee increase is only 1 percent of their budget. They have no problem putting that increase on us. We see it as a tax on education.”