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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Athletics no longer guaranteed student fee money

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UNM Athletics, Popejoy Hall and Student Health and Counseling are among nine on-campus organizations that lost their guaranteed funding from student fees for the fiscal year 2013.

UNM President David Schmidly on Thursday approved Student Fee Review Board’s recommendation to eliminate the “protected status” of nine groups that currently receive guaranteed funding from student fees.

SFRB Chair and GPSA President Katie Richardson said the measure will give students more control over how funding is given to organizations across campus.

“I think that students and the administration feel that student organizations need some consistency from year to year to plan their budgets, but now students can make recommendations in whatever form about the funding to determine the way in which students can best be served,” said Richardson. “All organizations that apply for fees are treated the same way and the SFRB has completely flexibility as recommendations about the amount that each organization receives.”

None of the nine organizations that lost protected funding were available for comment Thursday.

Organizations requesting funding for FY13 face strong competition for limited funding. Budget requests this year amount to nearly $17 million, but last year only about $11 million was handed out in student fee allocations.

UNM Information Technologies is requesting $3 million in student fees, a nearly 1,200 percent increase from the $231,000 it received last year. Athletics is requesting $3.5 million, about 85 percent more than the $1.9 million it received last year.

Right now, the SFRB baseline student fees, the minimum amount students will be charged in fees for FY13 is set at $460 per student, compared to last year’s $486.78. Richardson said she hopes to keep student fees low this year.

Organizations in need of funding present their case before the SFRB on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The individual members of the board will deliberate following the hearings this weekend and each of their recommendations will be averaged during meetings Feb. 6 and 13. The averages will then be given to the President’s Strategic Budget Leadership Team by Feb. 15. The team votes on the final allocations by March 1.

Schmidly also approved a one-year change in the composition of the board, from four undergraduate students and three graduates to five undergraduates and two graduates. The board now requires six out of seven votes for a fee change. Previously, a simple majority was required.

Richardson said the changes to the composition of the board and the supermajority rule are on a trial basis.

“Public comment changes went out last semester and the public returned with 25 comments about the policy, some of which raised concerns,” she said. “Upon reviewing these comments … we requested the change … on a one-year trial basis.”

Dylan Hoffman, who became the fifth undergraduate on the board on Thursday, said he believes the new changes will prove to be beneficial.

“I think that is what this year is about,” he said. “We are on a trial year with this setup and time will tell how the process works. I think it’s more representative of the undergraduate population, but we will have to work through the hearings and the deliberation to be sure.”

Graduate student fees account for about 22 percent of UNM’s total student fees, and will make up roughly 28.5 percent of the board, down from the current 43 percent. The board’s chair position switches between an ASUNM or GPSA representative each year.

The schedule for SFRB hearings is posted on the GPSA website under the SFRB tab at unm.edu/~gpsa

SFRB Members:
Chair: Katie Richardson, GPSA President
Vice Chair: Jaymie Roybal, ASUNM President
Graduate Members           
Japji Hundal
Matthew Rush (Alternate)
Elisa Guadalupe Pintor (Alternate)
Undergraduate Members
Angelica Gallegos
Greg Montoya-Mora
Cassie Thompson
Dylan Hoffman
Alternate TBD