SG wants more money from FAU students

Dylan Bouscher

Leaders in Student Government want more of your money. The only problem is they can’t find enough ways to spend what you already pay them.

At a meeting few students knew about, Student Affairs administrators and student leaders voted to recommend a five percent increase in the A&S fee. All students at FAU pay an A&S fee to fund Student Government. The proposed increase would help SG deal with the budget cuts the university could face next year. When SG officials who weren’t at the meeting found out about it, they took action. The Boca House of Representatives recently passed a bill that publicly shows the House is against raising A&S fees. The Senate is also writing a bill to oppose the committee’s recommendation.

If the increase is approved by the Board of Trustees, students will pay $12.56 per credit hour instead of the current $11.96. The increase was recommended before anyone in SG or Student Affairs knew how much money FAU would lose in the state budget cuts, or what the extra money would be spent on. “You don’t vote on an increase based on the state budget until the state budget is done,” Boca House Speaker Boris Bastidas said. “Before we even consider an increase, we need to know where the money is going.”

When A&S fees went up in 2010, SG officials took a pay raise. The committee chairs, governors, SG president and vice president got a salary boost. Bastidas mentioned his salary as House speaker went up $1.75 an hour.

How the extra money could be spent would be left up to the Senate, according to SG president Ayden Maher, who supports the increase. “The A&S fee is the only fee that goes directly back to students,” Maher said at a Boca House meeting. “This is something we need and I do agree that students should have been informed.” Maher also told the BHOR he would vote no on any other tuition or fee increase as the student representative on the Board of Trustees.

Bastidas vented his frustration to other representatives who weren’t on the committee. “I found out that Student Affairs decided to get a group of SG officials together without telling anyone else but those officials, to discuss raising A&S fees on the student body.”

Their conversation turned into a vote which unanimously supported the increase, according to Bastidas. “Someone had an idea to take a vote right there,” Bastidas said. The vote is only a suggestion since the Board of Trustees votes to raise A&S fees.

The campus treasurers who oversee all A&S fee money and how it’s used in SG were not on this committee. “The treasurers of each SG campus know more about A&S fees and how they’re used than any other student leader,” Boca Treasurer Christopher Naff said.

“I was pretty disappointed with how the committee met,” Naff said. “I oversee all the A&S fees on the Boca campus. I think I would be able to advise people on the committee.”

After students pay the A&S fee, the University Budget and Appropriations Committee decides how much money each division of SG will receive. “This is something the UBAC should have known about, according to the Statutes, and they didn’t,” Naff said. “No one ever told us about raising A&S fees.”

Jason Wu, Boca Campus budget chair who is on the UBAC and in the BHOR spoke up about the increase at a House meeting on Feb. 24. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “If this increase happens in A&S fees, you can count on me going up to administration and telling them I want the UBAC to meet again.” Wu said he wouldn’t mind redoing the entire UBAC process so extra money from the increase is assigned by the UBAC.

“I am not dealing with this little sidestep they’re trying to pull,” Wu said. “I did it once, I did it twice, I’ll do it three times. If we’re going to do it right, we’re going to do it right.”

According to Bastidas, SG may not need the extra money. “There is money left over, every single year,” Bastidas said at a House meeting. Naff agreed and explained SG does not always spend what they budget for by the end of the year.

When there is money left over in the A&S fees reserve account, there are no rules for how it should be spent. “The problem is the unused money — there’s nothing in the statutes about who oversees it, how it’s spent or where it goes,” Naff said. Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Charles Brown, started the committee which recommended the increase. “The vice president doesn’t feel there needs to be an increase in the A&S fee,” said Terry Mena, Associate Dean of Students.  “The student body president has looked at the potentiality of increasing the fee.”

Bastidas was told there would be a follow-up meeting a week after the first one.
Then the follow-up meeting was cancelled. Since the recommendation to raise A&S fees was approved at the first meeting, administrators can show the Board of Trustees students support paying Student Affairs and SG more money, according to Bastidas and Naff.

“I think we need to be a little louder,” Bastidas said “I think we need to go to the offices of those administrators and tell them ‘hell no’ to any increases.”

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Who was on the committee?

Students
Boca campus Gov. Ryan Ebanks
Jupiter campus Gov. Alex Lange
Broward campus Gov. Helen Pferdehirt
Student Body President Ayden Maher
Vice President Robert Huffman
Graduate student Peggy Joseph

Administrators
Associate Dean of Students, Chairman of the committee, Terry Mena
Interim Director of Today and Beyond Wellness Dr. Corey King
Associate professor Dr. Clevis Headley
Associate Dean of Student Affairs Dr. AJ Chase
SG Director Heather Bishara