Student government reviews university fees

Faculty and staff representatives from three important student fees – library fee, student health center fees and student publication fees – presented before the Student Government Association Student Fee Advisory Committee to discuss the budgeting for fiscal year 2014 and the importance of the services provided on April 10.

Torreyson Library Director Art Lichtenstein spoke in front of SFAC and provided the committee with the expenditures for 2014.

Currently, the student library fee for undergraduates and graduates is $3 per credit hour according to the reports given to SFAC.

With the total number of students and average number of credit hours taken by each student, student fees account for approximately $400,000 per semester, totaling $800,000 per year.

A list of expenditures was provided to the committee that showed a total of $863,568 in expenditures.

Any spending over the budget is financed by a carryover fund from previous semesters.

“Some semesters I purposefully try not to spend all that has come in because of major renovations like the ones we did on floor one,” Lichtenstein said.

Even though there has been a large expansion of online and print resources, the university is not at the level of some universities around the state.

Lichtenstein said, “I would say the only university that we cannot match right now is Fayetteville. We are just not in Fayetteville’s league; they are a major research, flag state institution.”

Further improvements to the library include the expansion of the night staff and renovations to the second floor to make it uniform with the first floor.

Junior class president Colby Qualls said the fee should stay the same.

Student Health Center Director Rochelle McFerguson presented on behalf of the Student Health Center and praised their effective and cost efficient program.

The student health fee is currently $65 per year and includes the costs of labs, vaccines and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) screenings with no insurance filed, which is competitive to other universities around Arkansas.

According to their websites, University of Arkansas – Little Rock charges $2.20 per credit hour with $5.00 for all laboratory work and vaccines done, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville charges $7.25 per credit hour that does not include laboratory testing or immunizations with insurance filed and Arkansas State University – Jonesboro charges $1 per credit hour with costs for vaccines, labs, and other services.

As of March 19, the Student Health Center has spent $1,405,600 of their $1,768,500 budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Projects that the Student Health Center hopes to explore are an on-site pharmacy and a text messaging service that allows staff to message students with appointment reminders.

The last time the student health fee changed in 2005, and SFAC wanted to ensure that the fee was being used to the best of its ability.

Qualls spoke about the student health fee at the SGA meeting and recommended a $10 increase to $75 per year that can be discussed by the SGA next semester to help fund the costs of lab testing and alleviate other costs.

“With 24,000 visits a year, the Student Health Center serves an important and frequently utilized role on campus that needs to be properly funded to keep up with inflating health care prices,” Qualls said.

Echo adviser David Keith, College of Fine Arts and Communication Interim Dean Terry Wright and Scroll adviser Paulette Walter represented the student publication fee to discuss its importance on the college campus.

“One thing that your funding for the publications ensures is something that is critical for the student welfare – academic freedom and artistic expression,” Walter said.

The student publication fee currently sits at $6 per semester and covers funding for The Echo, The Vortex and The Scroll. The funding is administered by the Student Publications Board and is budgeted between the three publications at the beginning of each semester.

The Echo received a budget of $81,690 of which $55,392.45 was been spent. The production of the newspapers is contracted to the Log Cabin Democrat.

The Scroll has spent $41,146.06 of its $71,140.00 budget and is talking about an online media outlet that will allow students to view previous yearbooks.

The Vortex has spent $22,012.38 of their $35,484.35, as of April 4.

Our recommendation for next year’s senate is to continue reviewing the publication fee, specifically looking at the numbers and appropriating the student salaries,” Qualls said.

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