Tuesday’s headline, “Fee fandango,” on the allotment of student access fees put the problems inherent in new, three-committee fee-increase approach a little too lightly.
Under the new three-committee system – which replaced a one-committee system originally implemented to streamline the fee increase process – Student Government, Student Health Services and Athletics have individual committees proposing fee increases for each respective group.
This three-committee system, which is composed of three students appointed by the student body president and three administrators appointed by the University president, has been nothing short of a fiasco for fee-paying students.
Administrators recognize that the three groups suffer from a lack of communication, which has resulted in a waste of time and resources, considering the sum of the fee increases proposed by each committee exceeds the maximum sum permitted by Florida law: $1.73, not the $1.35 that’s statutorily allowed.
In other words, the committees aren’t talking to each other and don’t know what’s going on, so the members are advocating and planning for policy change that can never be approved.
It seems like this problem could have been avoided had the one-committee system been kept, as communication between the different groups would have required they reach a compromise before presenting the proposed fee increases to the Board of Trustees, which must approve the fee-increases in order for them to be implemented.
Also disconcerting is the seeming lack of student representation in these committees. State law requires that at least half of the committee be composed of students approved by the student body, such as members of SG.
Since 2005, the single committee was made up for six administrators and six students. This year, the three committees are each composed of six members, three of whom are administrators and three who are students.
There’s the rub. The same three students sit on each committee, while the other three slots are filled by different administrators.
Lack of communication in the fee-increase committees and student under-representation are unjustifiable, as neither work in the best interest of students.
These problems point to a University that overlooks students’ needs as well as the vociferous protests of SG.
Whether or not the intent was to water down student voices, the decisions made by administrators to institute this program remains short sighted and poorly executed.