Student government distributes $17.7 million in annual student fees

Student government allocated $17.7 million in student fees for the 2013-14 fiscal year to 15 CU Boulder departments Wednesday and Thursday nights in an annual public discussion that lasted over 12 hours.

The total budget is higher than fiscal year 2012-13 and will result in an estimated increase of $5.50-6.50 in student fees next school year.

Only one department walked away from the hearings with less funding than fiscal year 2012-13. Student Group Funding Board proposed its own cuts and declined 25 percent in funding.

After hours of group decision-making, however, four members of the 18-person Legislative Council voted against the final budget.

Engineering Co-Sen. Daniel Hansen said he was satisfied that the council designated money to areas of maximum benefit to students, but could not vote for the final budget because money was left sitting unused in banks.

“There were several instances where enhancements were granted – they increase student fees – when it would have been far more appropriate to allocate funds from accounts such as fund balances and SOR,” Hansen said of CU’s Supplemental Operational Reserve, money reserved in a bank. “It’s fiscally irresponsible to leave massive sums of money in accounts where the interest does not even match inflation and then ask students to pay more.”

Click above to see the chart larger. (Josh Shettler/CU Independent)
Click above to see the chart larger. (Josh Shettler/CU Independent)

The fee allocations grew by over $3 million from 2012-13 mainly due to Rec Center renovations already underway. A total of $2,915,729 was allocated to the Rec directly from fee money that students approved in the spring of 2011. Additionally, the Rec received $4,468,755 for regular operations and maintenance, $307,106 less than its entire funding from student fees last year. The Rec Center‘s total budget reached $7,384,484.

The other big-ticket item on this and most years’ budgets was the University Memorial Center, which increased in funding by $434,580 to a total of $6,062,930 in student fee dollars.

CU NightRide, a service of the UMC, has reached its capacity and a new vehicle is required to be added every seven years, junior Shane Hedges said of the program that serves thousands of CU students each weekend. Either a Dodge Caravan or hybrid like the proposed Toyota Camry will be added to the NightRide fleet in 2013.

Additionally, the UMC asked and received enhancement funding for an events planner and equipment updates for Friday Night Film Series and Sneak Peeks. Senior Heather Starbuck, a manager of the film series, said she had to turn away an undisclosed Seth Rogen film at the end of February because the film could not be shown using CU’s technology.

Other notable funding allocations and enhancements decided for fiscal year 2013-14:

  • Student Legal Services acquired $2,329 more than last year in part for a private investigator, a position the department has never before hired.
  • The Environmental Center surpassed $1 million and gained, among other funding, a Sucial Justice Sustainability Coordinator, Family Housing Sustainability Program, graduate student team lead positions for CU Green Labs Program and financial support for SCORE previously provided solely through Xcel.
  • CU’s Volunteer Resource Center has grown tremendously in recent years and received praise from student government in the form of a $44,051 increase, to be applied primarily to financial aid for Alternative Breaks.
  • Cultural Events Board received $15,000 specifically for “special projects.” The category includes big-name guests like Macklemore, which the board is co-hosting with Program Council and said will cost about two cents per student. The board expects to reach about half of the student body by the time they graduate, the group said in their hearing last Wednesday.
  • Over the last year, Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations has had success with Hill Dialogue Dinners, which seeks common ground between students and permanent residents on the Hill. Off-Campus Housing received $25,299 more than fiscal year 2012-13 for the Hill program and other outreach services like the Turn On Your Light campaign, Ralphie’s List, and party registrations.
  • Women’s Resource Center received a small enhancement for student hourly payments and advanced $11,115 to a total student fee allocation of $266,358.
  • The Student Organizations Finance Office acts as a mandatory bank for student groups that operate under the student government. The office received $32,308 more this year to support the CU Student Government Finance Board and its chair and director in addition to continuing emphasis on Cultural Events Board and Distinguished Speakers Board.
  • The Student Group Funding Board operates under the Student Organizations Finance Office and provides financial support for student groups that do not exist directly under student government. The board asked for $250,000, down from $300,000 last year, but received $225,000.
  • KVCU, or Radio 1190, received $137,204, a $248 raise, after seemingly fighting for any funding at all. A few members of student government circulated a budget proposal early last week that included cutting almost all KVCU funding. The proposal turned into a debacle after being leaked unexpectedly and subsequently distributed to the other departments by student government.
  • CU Student Government Proper, the board that pays student government and is comprised of student government and outside members, did not receive the full funding it asked for. Student Body President Brittni Hernandez was adamant in her request for an executive staff payroll of $124,000 to pay people other than the politicians themselves, like communications directors, an elections commissioner, Freshman Council, the appellate court and liaisons. The board instead received $114,000 for executive staff payroll as part of its $508,461 total allocation. The $42,664 increase from last year includes one additional office worker.
  • The Distinguished Speakers Board received $130,209, a $10,024 increase, after student representatives debated every other cost center and the clock had struck midnight on Friday morning.

 Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Alison Noon at Alison.noon@colorado.edu.

Alison Noon

Alison is a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism and political science. She likes to run around outdoors when there's time.

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