This archived article was written by: by Eagle staff
Even though The USU-Eastern Student Fee Allocation Committee added $25 to student fees next year, they cut the newspaper staff funding almost 10 percent because the newspaper showed a $12,000 surplus in January. In their report, they wrote, “It is for that reason [surplus] that the SFAC proposes lowering the allocation.” They granted funding to programs that did not request funds until more than two months after the deadline and added funding to those who sought no additional funding. Student fees will go up from $200 to $225 for the 2011-12 academic year.
Through a GRAMA request, The Eagle found the SFAC initially asked for a $50 fee increase to be paid by every student each semester next academic year. Students pay $200 this year and would pay $250 per semester next year.
Chancellor Joe Peterson had misgivings about the 25 percent increase in student fees ($50 more per semester) and after discussing it with vice chancellors Greg Benson and Brad King, they felt that the increase should be limited to 12.5 percent. This increase was passed by the USU Board of Trustees in early March 2011.
USU-Eastern business office issued a document dating January 2011 showing other departments had more money in their budgets than the newspaper including ASCEU leadership $165,885, health and wellness $100,085, computer lab $81,332, student orientation $56,680, retention initiative $54,016, legacy $40,607, campus police $23,408, KCEU Radio $17,073 and super activity $15,468. Other departments with double-digit balances included the student recognition with $11,951, counseling center and JLSC bond $10,611. Police were cut four percent
The newspaper accrued deficits in the past two years, coming into the 2010-11 academic year with a $543.82 deficit.
The SFAC committee chastised the newspaper staff for having funding in their budget, then patted themselves on the back for “building a cushion of funding [$165,885] at the end of the fiscal year,” according to the student fee document they presented to Peterson. “To begin accruing a surplus,” the committee gave the SUN Center a $1.75 increase.
Three departments who had deficits were rewarded with increases. The student center allocation was raised from $15.20 to $16. The committee wrote, “The student center has been operating for several years now, and while no request for additional funding was made, the SFAC feels it appropriate to assist the student center operations in erasing the deficit in a more timely fashion.”
The BDAC was raised from $2 to $15 because the committee wrote, “when compared to allocations to other athletic departments throughout the state, this is a gross under investment. This fact, combined with rising costs of running a facility that supports student activities and student life as much as the BDAC, leads the SFAC to propose increasing the allocation.” BDAC director Dave Paur asked for $10 and was granted an additional $5 by the committee.
And finally, the SUN Center was $999 in the red and their fee went from $1.25 to $3. The SUN Center asked for a 50-cent raise and received a $1.75 raise.
They upped the computer lab fee 25 cents because “they have done an excellent job of improving technological equipment on campus,” even though $81,332 remains in their budget. They did not ask for the increase.
They dropped five cents off the recognition fee allocation for “ease of accounting only.”
The counseling center received a 25-cent raise because, the committee wrote, “the counseling center has made great strides in their offering to students, we would like to commend them for this.” The center’s personnel had not asked for an increase.
The activity card fee will go from $1 to $4 “to move toward implementing services offered by USU Logan.”
Departments who had never received funding received funding. The library asked for $5 and received $5; the testing center asked for 50 cents per student, received $1; and the theater $2. The deadline for submitting proposals to the SFAC was Dec. 17, 2010. The theatre department’s explanation for its needs to the SFAC was dated Feb. 28, 2011. Chancellor Peterson dropped the library funding to $3.50.
In a lengthy editorial about the theatre department, the committee wrote, “With total cuts to budgets over the past two years, the theatre department is working with a 51 percent reduction in total budget; the department has reached a critical point in its operations. The SFAC feels that the service provided by the theatre department is of vital importance to the campus community and student body, and therefore proposes an allocation of $2. We implore the administration to not cut second-tier funding for the theatre department as a result of this allocation.”
The alumni letter allocation received a 10-cent increase “to offset rising costs of postage, etc.” The last alumni newsletters were published in 2008 and 2003 even though funding is provided each year. There was a $16 balance from the 2010 funding. Individual campus entities usually do not pay for postage.
Departments whose fees stayed the same included the retention initiative. The SFAC wrote, “Statistics from Vice Chancellor [Brad] King’s office show direct affect on recruitment numbers in areas where this retention initiative funding has been applied ($54,000 balance). Last year they spent $26,000 on a television commercial on Comcast Cable, $8,000 for an ad in the Utah Jazz Yearbook, $1,412 for ad in LDS Living magazine and $1,000 for ad on LDS living online with $125 spent for artwork for the Jazz Yearbook ad.
The museum’s fee ($4,341 balance) and radio ($17,073 balance) stayed the same except they noted for the radio, “SFAC encourages the radio station to keep accurate records over the following fiscal year to determine operation costs which can be presented to SFAC in the future.” EUSA leadership, health and wellness, super activity, legacy, athletics, student orientation each stayed at the same level of funding.
The six serving on the committee included Rachel Ryan, Kelton Wells, Cami Hussey, James Jorgen, PJ Vea and Todd Olsen.
According to the bylaws of the “College of Eastern Utah Student Association” the student government fee allocation committee’s membership is made up of the CEUSA President, administrative assistant, financial assistant, student advocate, and two other CEUSA student members at large to serve as volunteer members.”
The adviser of student government, Olsen, served as a member of a student committee in the capacity of the financial adviser. In the student’s constitution, no mention was made whereas the adviser of student government would serve on any “student committees.” Students on the committee who could have biases (Hussey works for King who oversees the alumni newsletter and retention initiative; Wells competed with the radio program at SkillsUSA state and national competitions) were allowed to be on the SFAC committee. Olsen is directly or indirectly involved in the student center, intra and extramural sports, activity card, EUSA leadership, super activity, recognition, legacy and theatre.
Olsen has continually criticized the content of the newspaper over the years. He most recently told The Eagle sports editor that he was thankful he was on the staff because his articles were the only ones worth reading.
In the final paragraph of the SFAC document, “we would also like to offer our assistance, if so desired, in developing a student fee proposal presentation, or assisting with the Truth in Tuition hearing scheduled for later this year.” Ryan was the only member of the committee to attend the Truth in Tuition hearing.
Newspaper adviser Susan Polster is frustrated over SFAC cutting The Eagle budget. “Not one SFAC member came by to interview me about my program. We have not purchased a computer in three years and purchased a used-camera last year. All of our furnishings came from other department’s discards. There is no fat in our budget. The cut basically means we will publish 12 times next year instead of the 14 we have published for the past 20 years.
“What I see in the committee’s rationale is no central rubric followed in dispensing the funds. I have always taught my students to be neutral in covering events. This document shows no neutrality. If the committee liked the program, they gave them funding. Even if programs didn’t request an increase, the SFAC granted them additional funding. As you can see, apparently they don’t like the newspaper.”
Mae Goss, editor in chief, said, “The [SFAC] voting seemed exclusive and biased. Now I am canvassing campus trying to get 250 signatures from the student body to repeal this cut. If anyone would like to add their signature, please come by the newspaper lab [SAC 109] at any time. You have to be a student to sign the petition.”