The University of Kansas’ Student Senate passed a new fee package without an increase in a marathon session that lasted nearly five hours Wednesday night. The new fee package needed to be passed after the Kansas Board of Regents rejected the previous fee package.
While many organizations saw cuts, Senators voted to cut the most funding from KU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) partly because of the size of the CAPS reserve. Senators also expressed concern over CAPS’ struggle to recruit and hire counselors with diverse backgrounds. In the original fee bill, CAPS was supposed to receive a $2.05 increase from last year’s amount. In the new flat fee bill, CAPS ended up receiving a $2.45 cut from last year’s budget.
“There are a lot of shortcomings from CAPS that have nothing to do with what money they have,” Communications Director Azja Butler said. “There are a lot of historical shortcomings in so far as their ability to successfully recruit and maintain Black and Brown healthcare workers.”
Senators were also forced to scrap plans originally made to raise the minimum wage for all campus workers to $10 an hour and decrease the price of an STI panel for KU students at Watkins Health Center. Representatives from the Rec Center talked about how campus workers there could decide to quit without the minimum wage increase.
Senators voted to change the fee again toward the end of the night to include funding for KU Info after representatives from the group appeared before the full Senate and stated they would be out of a job within the next week if the current fee package was approved.
Throughout the night, Senators bashed the decision by the Kansas Board of Regents to reject the fee package. They sent a letter to KBOR at the conclusion of the debate over the fee package.
“The reality of your financial decision means cutting healthcare and mental health services, preventing student wages from increasing, and the further degradation of already struggling services across our campus is more detrimental for students than an increase of $31.15 per semester,” the letter said. “We need to rethink our priorities.”