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Officials hope for agreement on activity fees

BY MICHELE DANNO | FEBRUARY 25, 2009 7:39 AM

Officials from the UI Student Government, the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, and UI administrators agree on one thing: There needs to be an agreement over the student activity fees’ allocation — and soon.

If not, officials are worried it could interfere with student organizations submitting their budgets to student leaders on March 14.

“[UISG President] Maison [Bleam] and I want to come to an agreement before the end of February, because we don’t want to confuse organizations for which they submit budgets to,” Executive Council President Steve Wieland said.

While Bleam didn’t give a deadline for compromising, he said the groups’ leaders are planning to meet this week.

Wieland said if no agreement is made by the end of February, he expects the UI administration to intervene.

The Executive Council unanimously passed a measure on Feb. 11 to withdraw from the Partnership of Student Governments at Iowa — a constitution that binds them to UISG.

But UISG officials said last week that they would not recognize the withdrawal.

Now, the two groups must compromise in order to allocate the Student Activity Fee this spring.
The Executive Council wants its portion of the fees to go to graduate-student programs, Wieland said, but the current system favors the undergraduates.

Earlier this year, the UI administration placed the groups on professional mediation, hoping to force them to resolve the allocation issue.

But Bleam said he will not allow the administration to step in again.

“I believe that the students should be in charge of how the funds are handled,” he said. “Because, at the end of the day, the students pay that mandatory fee.”

Tom Rocklin, the interim vice president for Student Services, said the administration also wants the students to figure this out on their own.

“This is fundamentally a student-government matter, and it is not one for us to solve,” he said. “Our goal is to have them work this out.”

Executive Council adviser David Grady, the director of University Life Centers, said the administration wants to “provide tools” for the groups to reach an agreement.

“It’s always better if the two parties can reach an agreement on their own,” said Grady, also a former adviser for UISG. “But we have to make sure that student group’s funding is not affected by this disagreement.”

Bleam said his group would agree to splitting the fee — if it is handled by students.

“As long as students play the leading role and make the decisions of the split, then we are on board,” he said. “But if we are going to have something mandated on us and the administration is going to intervene, then we are not on board with it.”


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