During spring break, the Board of Regents proposed an initial budget which called for an $77 increase in student fees on top of the increase recommended by the Student Fee Review Board and the Strategic Budget Leadership Team.
The new budget also calls for a 3-percent increase in tuition.
SFRB Chair and GPSA President Katie Richardson said the regents went behind the backs of students by raising tuition and fees during spring break.
“The regents tried to pull one over students by suggesting a fee increase during spring break when everyone is out of town,” she said. “Not a single student was in the room at the time. It’s outrageous that the regents would suggest an arbitrary and unfounded fee increase over the recommendations of students and the SFRB and the SBLT.”
During the regents’ meeting on March 12, the board discussed the proposed student fees submitted by the SFRB, calling for an increase of $77 from the $503.20 fees recommended by the SFRB.
This would bring fees to $580 and the increase would be split between Athletics and UNM Libraries, according to the board.
Regent Gene Gallegos said the increase in fees will support the availability of journal subscriptions, computers and research technology that UNM students need to graduate. Richardson said these expenses should not be paid by student fees.
“Students recommended that fee increases should cover a 24 hour (library),” she said. “Journal subscriptions essential to research at UNM and student education … should be funded by appropriations from the state or by tuition, not student fees.”
President David Schmidly told the Albuquerque Journal that UNM needs to maintain its competitive Division I sports teams.
“We are underinvested in terms of what we’re doing with student fees and Athletics, and I know it’s a lot to ask the students to give more, but we have to think about this not only in the short term — we have to think about this in the long term,” he said. “And I would hate to see us begin to drop sports.”
But Richardson said the University needs to focus on academics.
“The fee applications of Athletics did not remotely justify an $77 increase,” she said. “Fees for Athletics cover student tickets.
More fees to Athletics would only be wasted on covering the more than $1 million in departmental debt.”
SBLT representatives said the tuition increase would help pay for a one-time 1.25 percent increase in pay for instructors, and pay a portion of the $4.2 million required to hire new faculty as part of Provost Chaouki Abdallah’s five-year academic plan.
The plan would also pay for a $1.5 million loan to Athletics in an effort to eliminate about $1 million in departmental debt.
The increase of $2.9 million in tuition would cost full-time, in-state undergrads about $87 based on current tuition rates. In town hall meetings sponsored by GPSA and ASUNM earlier in the semester, some UNM students said they would not be able to attend next year if tuition increased by more than $100.
UNM student Thomas Rogers said he may not be able to continue to attend UNM if tuition continues to rise.
“I came here this year as an freshmen because UNM has a lot more to offer than CNM, but to be honest I may go to CNM next year and get all of my core classes out of the way,” he said. “It’s just ridiculous how much costs are rising when I can get the same classes done for less than half the cost.”
The regents will continue discussing the budget for the University this Friday and finalize the budget April 27.
Members of the Board of Regents were unavailable for comment as of Sunday afternoon.