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Fee fight continues in student government

BY MICHELE DANNO | MARCH 11, 2009 7:17 AM

During the group’s meeting on Tuesday, UI Student Government President Maison Bleam submitted a constitutional-amendment resolution to its partnership with the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students.

Graduate students have disagreed with undergraduate students over the breaking of their partnership contract, which binds the two groups together. They’ve been in a disagreement over the allocation rights of the student-activity fees.

The amendment proposed Tuesday would, in part, change the structure of the budget committee that allocates student fees to campus student organizations and calls for UI officials to not intervene in student-government affairs unless both groups request it or they break university policies.

Still, even though Bleam wrote the amendment, he said he’s opposed to any split in the student-activities fees.

“I think it’s a big mistake to divide the funds,” he said. “However, this is the fairest way to split the fee if we are actually going to do it.”

The conflict over the student-activities-fee allocations has been brewing for almost two years now, UISG officials said. Tuesday’s proposal was “a step in the right direction,” Executive Council President Steve Wieland said.

But UISG members unanimously voted against it.

“Now, it’s up to the administration, and they are going to pass something through,” Wieland said. “It’s not going to be as favorable to the undergraduates as what they turned down tonight. They did that at their own peril.”

The amendment would change the structure of the Student Assembly Budgeting and Allocating Committee, which currently has six UISG representatives to allocate the 76 percent of the fee generated by undergraduates. The Executive Council has three to represent its 24 percent of the fee. Under the proposal, that ratio would change to seven undergraduates and two graduates.

The bill also asked that the Office of the Vice President for Student Services agree that they will never intervene in student-government affairs again. It noted they could become involved if requested by both governments or if the groups violate university policies, state or federal laws, according to the proposed amendment.

But the Executive Council wants its own committee, separate from UISG. Officials said this new committee, the Graduate and Professional Allocations Committee, will be modeled on the current system, except that it will only represent graduate and professional students.

“It’s just an issue of two different groups of people having different priorities,” Wieland said. “Not to say that our priorities are better than what undergraduates might have. We are just asking for a system where we agree that there are some organizations that are beneficial to everyone, and some that aren’t.”

UISG Sen. Michael Currie called the split a “logistical mess.”

Other UISG officials said they feared that a split will hurt student organizations. They noted they want to protect the students and be fair to student groups who are required to submit yearly budgets.


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