Asking for more

Student Government wants to improve student involvement by creating new traditions and strengthening existing ones.

By Suzanne Parks, Assistant News Editor

Low funding for Student Government’s plan to start new traditions around campus is what senate President Barclay Harless said is the main reason behind asking the fee increase committee to allocate an extra $0.66 per credit hour to the Activities and Services budget for the Fall 2007-2008 school year.

Last week Harless, along with senate Interim Funding and Transfers Committee Chair Umer Ahmed and sen. Erin Fisher, presented a proposal to the committee asking for the increase alongside Student Health Services and the Athletic Department.

“Based upon all the proposals I heard, there were some extremely worthy line items that should be considered for funding,” said Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies Glen Besterfield, chair of the fee increase committee.

According to the proposal, student body President Frank Harrison has outlined four major areas that could be improved upon by the addition of these fees. Of those, Harless cited a return on higher alumni donation rates being the most important to the University’s success.

“When students at USF have a better time, they’re more willing to donate. If you look at the University of Florida’s athletics (the majority of their funding comes from alumni), that’s because people have a good time at UF,” Harless said. “I’m not saying that people don’t have a good time at USF, but UF has a lot more years – they’re celebrating 100 years of football, we’re celebrating 10 – so they have a much more unified and proud student body that graduates and then gives back to the university.”

Other key points included unifying the student body, better marketing for the University to attract students and increasing retention rates. The proposal also included estimated figures of A&S budgets from UF, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida, ranking USF third out of the four.

If the proposed amount is accepted, Harless said it would go toward funding major events on campus such as Homecoming and Round Up. Other events that would share a portion of the money include Bullstock and MLK Week, which are both held in the spring.

“Last year, Maxon Victor set up the Stampede of Service, which falls during that (MLK Week) time frame,” senate pro-tempore Nathan Davison said. “Historically, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on that I’m aware of. It’s a tradition that has attempted to be set, but if we don’t even have enough people internally that know about it, how can we expect people externally to know? I don’t believe (the executive branch has) set an exact agenda or at least an agenda that’s consistently worked, but they think (spring semester is) an appropriate time for something.”

Harless also said that SG is looking to plan more events for students during the spring semester and added that Harrison might even be looking to bring bigger-name performers to campus.

“I think the end goal that Frank wanted to set up was to have a comedian for MLK Week and then for Bullstock, another music talent,” Harless said. “Obviously not on the same scale as Homecoming and Round Up, but definitely something to keep people’s attention during the spring.”

At this year’s Round Up, the Campus Activities Board brought comedian Monique to perform; last year, the event featured comedian Dane Cook. The Homecoming committee is in negotiations with Ludacris to perform at the Homecoming concert.

“We’ve been told the contract has been submitted, it’s under review and they don’t see any problem with it,” Davison said. “They are kind of in an understanding and everything looks good.”

Although SG’s main platform this year was promoting student life on campus, other concerns have arisen from Harless. Namely, funding the new Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

“Unfortunately, there was nothing on (the proposal) about the MC – that was something I was looking for. I haven’t been involved with Frank on this decision (of how to spend the fees if allocated). I’m not disappointed in not seeing it on here. I was a little concerned, though, because that is something – right now the only thing that is unfunded in the MC is the landscaping and the scenery that is going to be between the Bookstore and the new MC – but at the same time, there’s other concerns because you never know if the MC is going to cost more – which it probably will because the cost of construction is going to be higher. So we not only need to find ways to fund the MC … we also have to worry about possible extra costs. So I was kind of dismayed not to see that planned for in (the proposal), but there’s always next year,” Harless said.

According to Harless, Harrison had originally come up with a higher fee increase than the current request of $0.66, but after speaking with Besterfield decided to lower the amount to a more feasible number.

Even with this proposed amount, the committee has the option to lower it further or deny the request entirely. The committee is only authorized to allocate $1.34 per credit hour per student in total to the three requests. Because SHS and Athletics are each requesting a $1.00 increase, all three might find themselves walking away with less than they had hoped for.

Harless said he doesn’t believe the committee will approve his request for the entire $0.66 increase, but is unsure as to how much they might approve.

“Myself personally – I’m not speaking for the other students because this is one place where we kind of disagree – I am not totally convinced we need to raise the entire amount we have ($1.34) as the max and unfortunately not everybody’s in this mindset,” Harless said. “I’m in the mindset that I would like to try and work to get as small of a number as possible so it’s less money that the students have to spend. I’m for trying to haggle a price below $1.34 – that’s me personally once again. We’re aiming for $0.66; everyone else is aiming for a dollar. To be honest, I think we’ll get anywhere between $0.50 to $0.35.”

Athletics wants to cover increased Big East travel expenses and make upgrades to the Sun Dome.

By David Guidi, Staff Writer

The Athletic Department has requested nearly $1 million of additional funds from a proposed student fee increase being considered by a USF board of faculty and students.

The additional funding would go toward $700,000 worth of proposed improvements to the Sun Dome and $300,000 worth of additional Athletic Department operational expenses, including a projected cost increase in the lease for Raymond James Stadium and ballooning travel expenses, which shot up when USF joined the Big East in 2005.

Most notably, Costello said the need to travel long distances to some of the nation’s most expensive cities for road games against other Big East schools has created a $600,000 increase in projected travel expenses.

The additional funding will aid the Athletic Department’s larger efforts to raise the quality of USF Athletics, increasing their competitiveness within the Big East Conference, where other schools have already set a high standard, Associate Athletic Director Rick Costello said.

“The University has formed a partnership with the Big East Conference, and we need to uphold that partnership and continue to move our programs forward,” said Costello. “A vibrant Big East athletic program will enhance student life by developing a strong sense of student pride, togetherness and community.”

To be as competitive as possible with other Big East schools, USF needs its funding to be more commensurate with that of Big East rivals, Costello said. That is not the case right now. For the 2004-2005 fiscal year, the average Big East budget was roughly $34 million. USF’s budget was $19 million. While the gap has narrowed since, the Athletic Department’s budget still lags behind the average Big East budget by $10-$12 million, Costello said.

According to Costello, the difference is visible when traveling to other Big East schools.

“When you think of the rest of the Big East, you think of the Carrier Dome up at Syracuse, the Petersen Events Center up in Pittsburgh, Connecticut which has a brand new football stadium, Rentschler Field,” Costello said. “There’s definitely improvements that we can make to our facilities.”

The most pressing of these facility improvements are upgrades to the Sun Dome, home of USF’s basketball team, which after 25 years is beginning to show its age, Costello said. Because the Sun Dome is a joint-use facility, the effects of these improvements will be felt beyond the sphere of athletics.

Another facility-related issue facing the Athletic Department is the renegotiation of USF’s lease of Raymond James Stadium, which is up at the end of the year. At this point, the future cost of renting the stadium is unclear, but concerns over a cost increase factored into the Athletic Department’s funding request, Costello said. USF currently pays about $185,000 per game to rent Raymond James Stadium.

The funding request would translate into a $1 increase per credit hour in students’ Athletics fee. For a student taking 15 credit hours, the increase would add $15 in fees paid per semester. For a traditional four-year student taking 120 credit hours, that would amount to an additional $120 over the course of their academic career.

Within Florida, USF’s athletic fee falls below the state average of $12.14 per credit hour.

The Athletic Department received $617,000 from last year’s $0.66 increase in the Athletics fee, most of which went towards the same sort of increased operational expenses the department faces this year, namely travel expenses and the increased cost of playing an extra home game at Raymond James Stadium.

Senate President Barclay Harless, a member of the committee looking at the fee increase, questioned the amount of money requested for the Sun Dome improvements, citing that the Sun Dome is a business entity outside of the university, and the costs associated with the improvements should fall more heavily on them.

Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies Glen Besterfield, who is chairing the committee, said that in addition to enhancing student life, a competitive national athletic program would enhance the stature of the University, which would in turn help students further.

“Football brings notoriety to a university. It cannot hurt a student graduating from USF if USF is a great athletic institution.”

Student Health Services wants to hire another administrator, pay state-mandated increases to staff and help replenish its reserve funds.

By Ryan Blackburn, Associate Editor

Director of Student Health Services Dr. Egilda Terenzi said Monday that a $1 per-credit-hour raise of the Student Health fee would help cover state-mandated pay raises and the hiring of a new assistant director. Other issues concern the upkeep of an electronic medical record database and inflated medical supplies to benefit USF students.

Total fees for Health, Athletics and Activity & Services can only be raised by $1.34.

After a student fee committee meeting last Wednesday, Health and Athletics requested $1 each and Student Government requested $0.66.

“We’ll hopefully have a more efficient unit with (the increase),” Terenzi said of SHS. “I’d feel much better if we had money in the background for new air conditioning if something went wrong and equipment in the event of a new epidemic. You never know quite what would happen.”

In the past two years, SHS has had to dip into reserve funds and its staff has seen an increase in workload of 30 percent, she said.

That’s why Terenzi would like to spend $90,000 of the income from the fees next year to pay for an assistant director, $170,000 to cover state-mandated pay raises, $55,000 to cover pharmaceutical costs and upkeep of a paperless record database and $350,000 to replenish SHS’s reserve fund.

Terenzi would also use $80,000 to begin preparing for mandatory health insurance and $50,000 for a feasibility study for expansion of the center.

Six years ago, the director of SHS retired and Terenzi took the position without hiring another administrator. For the last six months, Associate Director of SHS Brian Mockler has been ill, leaving Terenzi in charge.

“We saved money by not hiring another administrator at that time,” Terenzi said. “I felt it was very important to have full-time clinical staff to handle the increase in students, but that placed the burden on me to handle both jobs.”

SHS employs five full-time and two part-time medical practitioners. There are also four mid-level nurse practitioners, 12 registered nurses and two medical assistants.

UCF employs seven full-time primary care physicians and eight mid-level nurse practitioners, Terenzi said.

In the fall 2002 semester, SHS had about 44,400 visits. In the fall 2004 semester, SHS had about 78,800 visits. On average, SHS sees about 140 students a day.

Terenzi is also concerned about space constraints for SHS. According to Terenzi, the recommended amount of clinical space for a University primary care center is about 1 square foot per student.

USF’s has about .35 square feet per student, she said.

UF, UCF and FSU are the only schools in Florida’s State University System meeting that criterion.

Space has always been a valued commodity for SHS.Five years ago, SHS moved four Health Education offices over to the Heath Services Annex. This year, Terenzi plans to move the immunization office into the space occupied by Kinko’s sometime in the spring. A 6-by-8 foot closet was also converted into an office.

In terms of budget, FSU and UCF’s student health centers have about $3 million more than USF’s SHS allocated for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. UF has about $10 million more than USF.

Some reasons other university budgets are higher include the price of each university’s health fee and total credit hours taken by each student enrolled, Terenzi said.

UF charges $8.62 per credit hour and has an enrollment of 50,785 students. UCF charges $7.95 per credit hour and has an enrollment of 46,540 students. USF charges $7.27 per credit hour and has an enrollment of $44,038.

Student Government senate President Barclay Harless said he felt an increase in SHS would be in student’s best interests.

“We do see the priorities that (SHS) have and we feel that those are acceptable and that they’re needed. We differ on the amounts (athletics and SHS should receive) but we agree health comes first.”

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and chair of the student fee committee Glen Besterfield agreed that SHS demonstrated a need for the increase.

“Student health has been underfunded for years,” Besterfield said. “Ten years they went without a pay increase. Last year they had to dip into the reserve funding and this year it looks like they will run into the red and we can’t allow our student health to be underfunded.”