Fees benefit athletics

Initial funding of a new football stadium on campus and other issues of allocation for segregated fees caused a debate in the recent deliberations of the Student Senate Finance Commission.

The Finance Commission released its recommendations Friday for funding of student organizations and events for next year.

“The commission set the ball rolling on a $4-5 million project that will eventually put Homecoming games in UW-Eau Claire’s backyard,” commission Director Nate Otto stated in an e-mail to The Spectator.

Facilities improvement for athletics received its allocation as part of an initiative to build a stadium on campus to take the place of Carson Park, where the Blugold football team plays.

“Athletics was a very controversial topic this year,” Otto said. That’s because the commission voted in favor of every student paying $3.50 a year in segregated fees for free admission to athletic games, he said.

Some board members feel that allowing free admission to athletic games would cause other organizations to request the same next year, Otto said.

Other decisions that raised objections included the low student involvement in the campus radio station WUEC and a high carryover balance for the Children’s Center, Otto said.

Deliberations took a total of nine hours, he said.

The commission held hearings Oct. 30 and 31, at which organizations stated their case for the funding they requested.

The money for the budget comes from student segregated fees, Otto said. If the bill is approved, segregated fees will go up $11 for each student.

Last year, the fees were reduced by $4.50 a student, he said.

Before the hearings started, the committee sets a total target amount based on projections of revenue expected from students next year based on enrollment, Vice Chancellor Andy Soll said.

Soll acts as an adviser to the group by providing information, but he doesn’t actively participate in the decision-making process.

After the hearings, Soll said the committee had to decide whether to lower allocations or raise the segregated fee because of exceeding the target amount.

The proceedings went very well, Soll said. The process was completed quickly and good questions were raised, he said.

The appeal process for organizations that want to respond to their recommended funding allocation will take place in two weeks, Otto said.

The commission then will send the budget in the form of a bill to Student Senate.

If Student Senate approves the bill in February, it goes to Chancellor Mash and then to the UW Board of Regents, Otto said.

“Usually approval by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents is a formality,” he said. “Student Senate has the most say (in approval).”

The Finance Commission is comprised of 15 student members. Membership is open to any student, Otto said. Student senators are preferred because they are elected by the student body as a whole and are accountable to the student body.