Student governance is back and ready to rumble as the Student Fee Board prepares to meet Friday to hear presentations from CAPS and the Student Farm Club. This comes as no surprise after UPUA President Terry Ford spent much of the fall semester discussing CAPS as a primary Student Fee Board project. Penn State President Eric Barron even committed to matching student fee allocations to CAPS with money from his office at UPUA’s Mental Health and Wellness Call to Action event (up to $400,000 this year and $500,000 in subsequent years).
When we left off at the end of the fall semester, Ford and GPSA President Kevin Horne (also an Onward State editor) interviewed applicants for the five at-large Student Fee Board positions. Here’s a breakdown of this year’s voting members:
- UPUA President Terry Ford
- GPSA President Kevin Horne
- UPUA Appointee Vice President Katie Jordan
- UPUA Appointee Facilities Chair Brent Rice
- UPUA Appointee Speaker Alex Shockley
- GPSA Appointee Vice President Marina Cotarelo
- GPSA Appointee Treasurer Sidharth Agrawal
- At-Large Member John Malchow (Penn State Law J.D. Candidate)
- At-Large Member Jon Muth (pursuing degrees in accounting, finance, and applied Spanish with a Master of Accounting; involved in Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and The Pennharmonics a cappella group)
- At-Large Member Paige Schank (pursuing a degree in supply chain & information systems; THON 2016 Alumni Engagement Director)
- At-Large Member Lexi Shimkonis (pursuing a degree in civil engineering; also an Onward State Managing Editor)
- At-Large Member Vamshi Voruganti (pursuing a degree in industrial engineering; involved in Nittany Data Labs and Innoblue Network)
Non-voting members on the Board include the UPAC Chairperson (currently Mike Hoeschele), Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray, and Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones.
CAPS is proposing a $15/student mental health fee to the Board, which would accumulate more than $1.2 million from University Park students alone at a total of more than $2 million from all Penn State campuses. With this funding, CAPS would like to provide additional services like 24/7 access to a phone consultation, web-based self help, and centeralized tele-health services. Here’s a summary from the introduction of the proposal:
In brief, the implementation of a university-wide student mental health fee will ensure that Penn State University can provide mental health services to students in need using a public health approach, which includes defining minimum levels of service and reducing or eliminating barriers to urgent care and routine short-term treatment when possible. Fee revenue will be used to expand the variety, availability, and capacity of mental health treatment options university wide with an emphasis on expanding treatment capacity. Finally, the creation of a student mental health fee will provide a flexible funding mechanism whereby service demand and institutional service goals can be annually reviewed and aligned via relatively small adjustments over time.
After a public comment section, the Board will also discuss old business, including administrative advising, debt assessment, support from the Corporate Controller’s office, standing allocations, and the Student Fee Board website. In addition to the CAPS presentation, the Board will discuss the Student Fee Board handbook (which is still a working document on its way to finalization) and hear from the Student Farm Club.