Committee gives voice to students over fees

For the first time, students will have a voice in the recommendations made to the Board of Trustees regarding how student fees are spent next year.

Student fees are money included in each full-time student’s tuition cost that is given to student organizations to help fund the groups’ activities. Last year, each full-time student paid $397 in student fees each semester.

The Student Fee Committee formed in the fall semester after Pat Terrell, vice president of Student Affairs, approached Student Government President Nick Phelps with the idea.

The committee is made up of seven voting members, each representing a group that received student fees last year. Tyler Fleck, chairman of the committee, said representatives from groups requesting new student fee money started to meet last semester to work on the details of the recommendation.

Fleck said Terrell researched benchmark universities and found that many had groups that allowed for some student input on the use of student fee money.

“We felt it was really important to get student opinions involved,” Fleck said.

After returning for the spring semester, Fleck said the committee met and started voting on specific fee requests.

“We spent a lot of time discussing the fees and there would be a large consensus on who should receive what before official voting took place,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to decide on our student fees. Everyone took the job very seriously.”

Terrell created her own recommendation to be sent along with that of the committee’s to the board for vote. Her proposal totaled to 50 cents less for student fees than that of the committee’s allotment, at $432.75 per semester to be distributed among 12 organizations. The committee’s proposal totaled $433.25 per semester, a $36.25 increase from last year.

The Office of Student Involvement was added to the list of organizations receiving money from student fees for this school year and added to the 2008-09 list is the environmental club, UK Greenthumb.

Both recommendations will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the meeting Tuesday. Once voted on by the board, the Council on Postsecondary Education must approve the fees before they go into effect, Fleck said.

Phelps served on the committee as the SG representative, and said the committee has opened the lines of communication about how student fees should be spent.

“It made sense to bring everybody to the table and have one recommendation,” Phelps said. “It’s important to know how (the money) is being spent and how we could better use it.”