Student Fee Board Continues Deliberations, Postpones Final Recommendation Vote
The University Park Student Fee Board convened for the second time this week Friday morning after its Wednesday meeting was cancelled due to weather.
The Board had hoped to conduct its final fee recommendation vote by the end of the week, but was forced to postpone the vote to next Monday. It continued to discuss various allocation requests, and outlined a tentative and unofficial decrease in next year’s student fee total.
Fee Board Chair Tyler Akers kicked off the meeting with a brief review of the university’s student governmental budgets.
The Board then moved into a discussion of the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts allocation request. The Board expressed support for the Center’s ticket subsidy program, reluctance for funding its planned Illumination Festival, debated the funding of the organization’s opportunity fund, and settled on a general consensus of flat funding.
The next request under review was that of the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC). The Board addressed the organization’s need to fund increased security costs at campus events, expressed its support for the organization’s program and travel allocations, and established a general consensus around a $650,000 standing allocation for the Committee.
The Board briefly revisited the LGBTQA Student Resource Center’s proposed renovation of the Robeson Gallery in the HUB. It questioned whether funding provided for a possible five-year payment plan for the renovation, which would consist of $37,000 per semester payments, should come from a sub-dollar increase in the Student Fee or the Fee Board’s general account.
It also examined the LGBTQA SRC’s institutional request, focusing on the division of funds between the programming and employment halves of the Center’s proposal. The Board noted that the Center’s request outlined about $49,000 in employee wage funding for the entire year. Several members expressed reluctance about this total, noting that student workers in the newly-renovated LGBTQA SRC would be paid approximately 25 cents more per hour than their counterparts at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Overall, however, members supported an increase in funding that the Board said would double the Center’s budget to a total of about $141,000.
The Board then entered a brief discussion of the proposed expansion of the campus Omnicharger system, outlining another five-year payment plan in collaboration with other campus entities such as the HUB, before returning to its discussion of the Bryce Jordan Center’s allocation request.
The Board expressed concern Monday about the BJC’s use of Fee Board funds as a business entity, but Chair Tyler Akers clarified that the Center has only recorded one profitable year since it was opened in 1996.
Akers also explained that whenever an Auxiliary and Business Services entity like the BJC earns a profit, its excess revenue is placed in a reserve fund that other, struggling units can pull from to cover costs. The Board’s intentions regarding its final funding total for the BJC remained unclear.
Finally, the Board addressed the Office of Student Activities funding requests, focusing specifically on Penn State Homecoming and the Allen Street Jam. It was supportive of a mid-level funding increase for Homecoming, primarily citing a need for more inflatables. Akers recommended that the Board grant the Allan Street Jam’s full funding request, citing increased security and production costs.
To conclude the meeting, Akers outlined a tentative final student fee total for the group.
“While moving some of the expenses to the summer, because we’re trying to utilize more of the summer fee, we will have a fall/spring fee of $261 per semester per student,” he said.
If this total is confirmed by the Board on Monday and the Board’s final recommendation is approved, the new fee will represent a $6 decrease from last year’s total.
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