SG, student council to allocate Lakeland A&S fees

After sitting untouched in a reserve cash account for months as USF transitioned its Polytechnic branch campus to becoming Floridas 12th public university, about $1.7 million in student Activity and Service fee (A&S) funds are once again ready to benefit Lakeland students.

USF Tampas Student Government (SG) will now work with students from Lakeland in serving to fill the void after the Polytechnic Student Government dissolved.

University spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez said in an email to The Oracle that USF Tampas SG will now be responsible for allocating the funds as needed by Lakeland students.

At this point, the USF Tampa (SG) will be working with administrators to facilitate setting up the account and work to apply the funds appropriately for the benefit of the (Lakeland) students, she said. A&S Fees must be allocated by way of a budget developed by a (SG) so a process will need to be established by the USF Tampa (SG), with accounting kept to demonstrate the funds were used appropriately.

Florida Statute section 1009.24 10(b) states the allocation and expenditure of A&S fees must be determined by the student government association of the university, but the president of the university may veto any line item or portion within the budget.

The $1.7 million is comprised of $1.2 million in carry forward funds accrued from the 2010-11 fiscal year or prior, $506,000 in unused student organization or programming funds from the 2011-12 fiscal year, including $414,000 that had once been earmarked for a student life, wellness and recreation center that would have been built at the new Interstate 4 campus that has since had its ownership transferred to the new Florida Polytechnic University.

As decided at a May Board of Governors (BOG) meeting, remaining funds from the $1.7 million in A&S funds can only go toward benefiting students involved in the teach-out, by which students of the former Polytechnic are able to complete their degrees in Lakeland through a phasing-out process that is expected to take between two to five years.

At the same meeting, the BOG voted to allow USF to continue collecting fees from Lakeland students at the current rate a $5 flat fee and $24.35 per credit hour in A&S fees. The fees collected will go into the pool distributed by Tampas SG.

USF Tampa has about $13.6 million in its A&S funds for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Student body President Brian Goff said Lakeland students will now be represented by seven students who will make up the Lakeland Student Council and make funding decisions for student organizations and programs. Final approval would go through Tampas SG.

They are technically part of the Tampa campus, so we cant have two student governments for the same campus, he said. The teach-out site in Lakeland is an extension of the Tampa campus.

Last week SG passed an appropriations bill for $197,000 that will cover program costs and student organization needs, as well as salaries for 11 student government OPS, or temporary, positions and SG adviser positions at Lakeland, Goff said.

Goff said SG worked with students who had been involved in the former USF Polytechnic Student Government in constructing the appropriations bill.

I think what we ended up allocating was $50,000 to $60,000 less than the request, he said. But when we were going through we had Lakeland students and the Lakeland adviser (Mark Flynn) going with the budget with us, making sure they agreed with everything and they were OK with everything, so everyone left happy.

The highest paid positions on the Lakeland Student Council are the Governor and Lt. Governor positions, which will each be paid at the rate of $9.55 per hour for 25 hours a week. Other positions include treasurer, secretary, advisor on student life, adviser on programming, and deputy adviser on programming.

The highest paid positions in USF Tampas Student Government which serves about 38,000 students are the positions of student body president and student body vice president at $10.25 per hour for 39 hours per week.

Goff said the positions will be advertised on the Human Resources website within a week, but hopes all the positions will be filled within one or two weeks, a time frame which should be facilitated due to a less rigorous hiring process compared to other SG positions.

Jobs will not have to be posted for five days, Goff said, nor will they have to interview a minimum of three candidates per position. Chosen applicants will not need to come to SG Senate to be confirmed, as is the case with other SG hired positions.

Our hope is just to take the elected officials that they have because there are three or four, and kind of roll them over into these positions and just let them kind of decide whos going to fill the other ones, Goff said.

Donald Black, a senior majoring in business and information technology, who had been elected as Polytechnic SG President prior to its SG being dissolved, said he plans to apply for the positions of Governor, Lt. Governor and probably a few more.

Black said he would have liked to keep a full student government, but understands why they cant do that.

If we cannot have a fully-functioning student government here in Lakeland, then this is the next best step for that, he said. We have to have some semblance of governance here in Lakeland and activities for our students and have stuff for our student organizations.