Fee Review 2/9

Student Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thomason discusses fee amendments during fee review Sunday, Feb. 9.

Student Senate’s Finance Committee approved a $15 increase per semester for the fiscal year 2020-2021 fee package Sunday, Feb. 9. The package includes a $7.50 increase for Counseling and Psychological Services. The increase sets the student fee package at $506.95.

The campus fee review subcommittee gave CAPS the largest increase for the fiscal year after a Senate survey of the student body found 89% of 1,069 students said they have not used CAPS’ services. 

“A University where we embrace mental health services is a University that is much better than the rest because it really sees the modern environment of mental health on a college campus and the struggles that students face,” Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thomason said.

The $7.50 increase will go towards the prioritization of hiring a licensed psychiatrist, social worker and case manager, and lowering the fees for non-psychiatric appointments, according to the bill. The CAPS fee is now $37.50 per semester.

Thomason said during the meeting that Senate estimated non-psychiatric appointments would decrease from $15 to $10 after the increase to CAPS’ fee.

“We’re lowering costs for students and we’re able to give them more staff members, which lowers waiting times,” Student Body President Tiara Floyd said. “We heard those concerns and acted accordingly.”

The campus fee review subcommittee reduced the Student Union Activities fee by $0.50 and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center fee by $0.05 to set aside funding for the CAPS increase, Thomason said. In addition, Senate reduced its own activity fee by $3.20.

Last year, Thomason said finance senators passed a $0.25 increase for CAPS.

The campus fee review subcommittee originally introduced a $13.95 increase from FY 2021 before increasing it to $15 as the bills were being presented. Committee members voted to increase the student union fee, the campus environmental improvement fee and the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity fee.

The subcommittee originally decreased the Student Engagement Center fee from $3.25 in FY 2020 to $2.50 in FY 2021 due to a delay in the construction of the center. However, Union Director David Mucci asked for the fee to remain at $3.25 in order to ensure enough money was allocated for the center’s construction costs.

Finance senators voted to increase the campus environmental improvement fee from $5.60 to $5.80 to maintain student wages and to increase the Emily Taylor Center fee by $0.10 to increase professional development for the center. After the three amendments passed, the fee package increased to $506.95.

The student fee package increased by $9 in FY 2020, after Senate chose to completely eliminate the athletics fee.

“Students need mental health resources,” Thomason said. “They need a home in the Union for their student involvement. They need a bus service that navigates a geographically diverse place like Lawrence. We, just as much as anyone, understand the need to control the package. With that said, an increase of $10-15 dollars is sometimes necessary to ensure the future success and viability of campus operations that ultimately make a campus a campus.”