SGA deals with fee-increase brouhaha
| Staff Editorial |
All levels of politics get more active when an election looms, and the Student Government Association is no different as we approach its April ballot.
This time of year, SGA also has to pass through its annual schedule of recommendations to the President’s Council and Steve Scott, Pittsburg State’s president, for student fee adjustments.
This is the most consequential slate of decisions the body will make. These fees, along with tuition, have seen a steady rise in recent years.
For its part, SGA has made a concerted effort to control that increase, and its leadership should be commended for trying to look out for students’ wallets in a time when the economy remains sluggish.
Student senators have deliberated for hours about these increases during their meetings, after many of them already put in more hours on the various fee council meetings. Any university entity that wants more money from SGA is expected to prepare a solid case.
This year, the process has seen some problems.
It’s important to know what these recommendations actually mean. The President’s Council has the final say on what fees will be charged. Scott has usually followed SGA’s recommendations, but at times, he’s decided its numbers are too stingy.
Each “dollar” increase actually represents several thousand dollars in funding, because it is assessed to most of the student body.
Senators vented at length about this and other presidential adjustments at their meeting on Feb. 26. When the Athletic Fee Council offered its recommendation of $9 for the 2014-2015 year, next to no consideration was given to passing it through unchanged.
After an extended debate that saw a lot of discussion and a little bit of yelling, SGA finally settled on a figure: It voted in a $1 increase, though several senators and Taylor Gravett, SGA president, did not support that decision.
Conservative senators said they are determined to bring an end to what they see as a culture of constant fee increases every year, especially for athletics.
The administration is outraged. Scott, who is not usually given to confrontation, expressed “shock” at hearing the news, saying, “our athletes deserve better.”
An increase of $1 really doesn’t seem to be enough, given that tuition is expected to rise next year and the Athletics Department will need more money to keep pace with scholarships and maintain its competitiveness.
Indeed, several senators said during the meeting that the vote is a “political statement.” No need to worry about the lack of money for athletics, they said, because Scott will take it upon himself to make it right, and hold the responsibility for doing so.
That’s called passing the buck.
This kind of decision-making should not govern the stewardship of students’ money. Senators should make a call on fee increases based on their merits alone, and Scott should, generally, respect them.
Until recently, that’s how the process has worked. It’s unnecessary for political calculation to play a role.