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New fee panel praised

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | FEBRUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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A new committee to decide the allocation of the student activity fees is garnering praise from both sides of a yearlong funding dispute.

The new committee will help determine how much funding groups with a shared interest will receive.
The UI Student Government and Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students members approved plans on Tuesday for Student Governments at Iowa, a joint allocations committee.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, an interim policy guided operations for allocating funds. Thomas Rocklin, the UI interim vice President for Student Services, had created the temporary plan.

Those who developed the new version were happy with its completion.

“One of the key things here is that this policy now is something that was created by students and not imposed on us by the VP of Student Services,” said Executive Council President Eric Kaiser.

UISG financial officer Patrick Cebrzynski (who also serves on the Student Publications, Inc. board) agreed.

“[The old policy] was like your mom or your dad telling you you had to do your homework,” he said.

The new policy utilizes many similar concepts from the interim policy, he said, but with some modifications.

In addition to the newly created joint group, the undergraduate UISG has an organization to allocate student-fee money, the Student Assembly Budgeting and Allocating Committee. The Executive Council has the Graduate Professionals Allocation Committee.

Student Governments at Iowa will allow large student groups that affect both undergraduate and graduate students to apply for collaborative funding organization status. Currently, 11 groups have the status, including SCOPE, Dance Marathon, and the Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

For the rest of this year, the Student Governments at Iowa will use the list of collaborative funding organizations that Rocklin provided.

Next year, any student organization that wants the status will have to apply for it, with terms lasting two years.

The UI receives approximately $1.5 million in student fees each year, Cebrzynski said.

Though former UISG President Maison Bleam and former Executive Council President Steve Wieland told The Daily Iowan in February 2009 that they hoped to reach an agreement about allocating student fee money in the near future, Kaiser said new legislation takes a while to develop and even longer to get everyone on board.

“We don’t have holes, we don’t have mistakes in how we operate,” Kaiser said.

Michael Appel, a Student Assembly Budgeting Allocating Committee member, said communication with graduate students has been influential.

“At this time last year, we could not get anything accomplished,” he said. “I think it’s good now because we finally have a working system.”

UISG Senator Joe Sheridan agreed, noting the new policy is a step forward.

“But I still think there is a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said.

Sheridan suggested a program to educate the student groups applying for collaborative funding organization status, especially because student organizations often have quick leadership turnovers.

“We can look at this document as something to start with,” he said. “Then we can have student organizations go through and see what we can tweak.”


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