Student fees to fuel many new campus projects this year

The student fees committee has recently sent a budget proposal for the 2004-2005 year to President Franklin Jenifer, requesting funding for several new and expanded program expenses across the school.

The new student fees budget totals $9.795 million. The fees committee consists of five students selected by the Student Government Association (SGA) president and four faculty members.

“We have control of four fees: the medical services fee, Student Union fee, recreational activities fee and student service fee,” said Sophie Rutenbar, SGA vice president.

The committee has been meeting since last fall to prepare the fiscal year 2005 budget that will become effective in September, said Darrelene Rachavong, interim vice president for student affairs.

“That budget has gone to the president, (who) will make his recommendations. Usually he takes the fees committee’s recommendations,” Rachavong said. “The students have a voice in the student fees committee… but it’s not a done deal until the president says it is.”

Pending the president’s approval, the budget will be sent to Austin for the UT System’s review. A final decision on the budget is expected anywhere between June and August, Rachavong said.

New projects and expenses would include electronic signage for Drive A – a one-time $70,000 expense that will come from the Student Union fee.

The budget also includes a $100,000 allocation for the construction of a cricket pitch from the recreational activities fee.

In addition to the cricket field, the recreational activities fee will cover the costs of extending the Activity Center’s operation for an additional hour every evening.

Another new project funded through the budget is the conversion of the Student Union’s first floor arcade into a webcasting booth for Radio UTD.

A sum of $14,100 has been approved for the project, which would consist of constructing two additional walls within the room and soundproofing the allocated space.

With the addition of several Peer Advisors to serve the soon-to-be-constructed Phase VIIIb, a new counselor in the Counseling Center to retain state accreditation, two additional recreational sports coordinators and other similar costs, the budget was nearly entirely spent, Rutenbar said.

This year, a portion of the costs for Financial Aid have been shifted over to state funding, freeing $350,000 for other programs, Rutenbar said.

With these extra funds, and by shifting some expenses from the student service fee to the Student Union fee, the student fees committee was able to turn a $40,000 deficit into a $300,000 reserve, Rutenbar said.

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