fee review - finance [CHANCE PARKER]

Finance Chair Seth Wingerter introduces the fee review bill in Finance committee on Wednesday, March 6. Student fees totaled $492.95 in the legislation introduced in finance committee.

Fee allocations for the fiscal year 2019-2020 passed through the Student Senate finance committee on Wednesday, March 6. Fees were increased by $10, setting the total student fee at $492.95.

Following fiscal year 2019, in which students saw the largest increase in fees since 2009, the campus fee review subcommittee agreed to try and keep increases as minimal as possible, while taking into account the $20 million budget cuts the University of Kansas is facing.

The passed fee allocations included a proposed cut to the athletics fee, bringing the previous funding of $7 down to $0.

“We looked at every single fee and we decided, ‘Is this fee absolutely 100 percent critical to the safety, to the wellness, to the ability to thrive on our campus?’” said Student Body President Noah Ries. “And really more so, ‘Is there another funding source that wouldn’t necessarily fall on the students’ back that could be tapped into?’”

The athletics fee, which was previously $24 per student, was originally zeroed out by Senate in 2014. However, due to funding still needed to pay for the Ambler Recreation Center, then-Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little reinstated it at $7.

Since then, the $7 fee has been used to fund tutoring for student athletes, according to Ries.

After further consideration, the campus fee review subcommittee agreed this program could be funded elsewhere, potentially through the Williams Education Fund.

“This was not an impulsive decision,” Ries said. “This was something the committee looked into, assessed very diligently and ultimately decided was the best way to approach this current situation.”

The subcommittee felt as if the money from the athletic fee wasn’t efficiently going toward the entire student body and a $300,000 fee revenue could go toward many other sources, Finance committee chair Seth Wingerter said.

“Ultimately now, we feel as if it’s the right time to return [the athletics fee] to $0 and to reallocate it to other sources that we feel are down to their last penny,” Wingerter said. “We feel like there’s a lot more money in athletics, and there’s not necessarily a potential for growth of their population across campus.”

Due to the nature of athletics fundraising success, the subcommittee agreed that the money allocated to athletics could better support other entities on campus that may lack funding.

“I think the understanding was athletics is really good at fundraising … We just feel, regardless of the source itself, we feel like we don’t want to send a message that we don’t care about athletes,” Ries said.

Other schools in the Big 12 such as Kansas State University, as well as Wichita State University, are also cutting student funding for their athletics, according to Ries.

Other proposed fees included an introduction of $2.60 for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, an additional $5.40 for Kansas and Burge Unions and $3.25 for the new Student Engagement Center. The committee also agreed to continue funding of $2 for the student readership fee which funds The University Daily Kansan.

The legislation to implement the fiscal year 2020-2021 required student fees will go through full Senate on Wednesday, March 20.