Despite fund shift, legal office flourishes

BY JON FRANK | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

As funds from the University of Iowa Student Services Office are eliminated from the Student Legal Services’ budget, student-government organizations said they are unable to pick up the slack.

Despite the funding decrease from the office — a gradual process over the last several years — Student Legal Services officials say they have anticipated the waning source of funds and won’t experience a budget shortfall in fiscal 2012.

“We always have [received adequate funding],” said Greg Bal, the supervising attorney for the service. “I’ve never felt threatened that we were not going to be funded.”

The two student-government bodies jointly responsible for dispersing money to student organizations — funds allocated from the student activities fees — will contribute $154,089 to fund Student Legal Services, which amounts to 22 percent of the combined student governments’ $705,824 overall budget for fiscal 2012. The funding is a 2.1 percent increase from the fiscal 2011 budget.

“Over the last five years, the vice president has funded less, and we’ve funded somewhat more,” said Lyndsay Harshman, the president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students. “But we haven’t entirely made up the deficit.”

Regardless, members of the legal office said their budget requests were fully met and they will continue to be able to provide legal counsel for UI students. Officials said their requests were met and they won’t have to cut services or pay.

“We have come to a point in time where we’ve been completely weaned off those funds [from Student Services],” said Bill Nelson, the director of Student Life.

Although the legal service must seek funding from other sources — and increasingly rely on the money provided by the student governments — the organization is busier than ever.

The annual Don’t Get Busted lecture — a seminar given by Bal to inform students of their legal rights — saw its audience grow by 200 people to 650 students in September 2010. Moreover, Bal reported seeing roughly double the number of weekly student visitors in the office last fall.

Since fiscal 2009, the student governments’ joint budget has been able to gradually produce more funding for the legal service, thanks largely to increased tuition, which results in more student activity fees. The fee is currently $32.50 for each undergraduate student enrolled in 12 or more semester hours. In fiscal 2009, Student Legal Services received $138,060 of the student governments’ $655,715.

The budget for fiscal 2012 has been approved by the UI Student Government and the Executive Council. It awaits final approval from Tom Rocklin, the vice president for Student Services.

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.