Mason to take budget questions


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UI students will have their first chance to directly question UI administrators on budget issues, including tuition increases, and a $100 spring surcharge.

In response to students’ concerns about the university’s budget crisis, the UI Student Government will host an open-questionnaire style forum with President Sally Mason and Provost Wallace Loh at 6 p.m. today in 348 IMU.

Though typical public forums with UI administrators feature screened questions submitted via note cards, students will be allowed to raise their hands and ask questions directly.

UISG technology director Ryan Kopf, who organized the event, noted that the idea was part of the UISG executives’ platform.

He sees the forum as an excellent opportunity to address student concerns about the budget crisis, he said.

“A lot has happened this year,” he said. “I know students have questions.”

The financial effect of budget cuts on students could include a 6 percent tuition increase in addition to the spring surcharge.

UI senior Mark Hilton said the forum is a good idea, while noting he hasn’t taken the time to thoroughly inform himself on the university’s financial situation. But, he said, there’s an advertising and date selection problem with the forum.

“Discourse between students and administrators is normally a good thing,” he said. “Earlier in the semester I would have thought about this more, but with finals and papers due, it’s just not a priority.”

Actuarial science student Jessica Urbaniax echoed his sentiments.

She feels university officials did a poor job of informing students about how they plan to use the proposed surcharge, stating the forum is an excellent way to address her questions.

But on Tuesday afternoon, she didn’t know UISG was hosting the event.

“I would have gone if I were more forewarned,” she said. “It’s a great idea, if we had heard about it.”

Both UISG Vice President J.D. Moran and President Michael Currie said they’re aware of the lack of advertising. Executives completed the forum plans last week, and Thanksgiving break made it difficult to get the word out, Moran said.

UISG sent electronic invitations via Hawkmail and Facebook on Tuesday. All primary representatives for registered student organizations received an e-mail, as well. Despite the short notice, UISG executives said they’re still hopeful students will take the initiative to have their budget questions answered.

The idea to host the forum first appeared on Currie and Moran’s 2009-2010 platform last year during the student-government elections.

The pair’s agenda calls for monthly open forums, designed to provide a strong and regular communication bridge between UI students and officials.

But Currie said he feels the forums will be more productive and receive higher attendance if they host only a handful of questionnaire events, rather than one each month.

Though not monthly, Currie said, students will see more open forums during the spring semester. Two are scheduled for February and March 10.

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