UNF students will pay an increased Athletics fee next fall despite lower enrollment at the university. Students who register for 12 credits’ worth of classes in Fall 2015 will pay $229.44 just in Athletics fees.
After only Athletics and the Counseling Center requested fee increases for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Student Fee Assessment Committee (SFAC) met on Dec. 2 to decide if either department should be given an increased fee based on student needs.
The SFAC approved an increase to the Athletics fee of 29 cents per credit hour, and no recommendation was made to increase the fee for the Counseling Center.
The fee change will be applied after the Summer 2015 term ends, assuming UNF President John Delaney and the Board of Trustees agree to pass the measure.
The SFAC had 48 cents per credit hour to add to next year’s student fees. The fee balance was lower this year than in the past because of lower student enrollment.
If enrollment is still down and tuition does not increase for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the remaining 19 cents from this year’s SFAC will be all next year’s committee can work with.
Director of the Counseling Center Andrew King asked for a 44 cents increase to their fee on Nov. 17. The increase would have covered three doctoral internship positions, providing more staff to serve student needs.
The Counseling Center saw a decrease in student visits over the last year, which King attributed to a vacancy in his staff.
Student Body Treasurer Morgan Wolf said the three internship positions would have each been paid at about half the rate of a professional counselor.
Wolf said, “If they are requesting for three interns, what about just hiring one full-time therapist to see the additional needs?”
Once Wolf said this, other members agreed it was a good thought but did not deliberate on how to add more counselors to the program. Several members of the committee mentioned “the climate” of student fees at this time.
Student Body President Joseph Turner said that the Counseling Center is doing well enough to not require a fee increase or add more staff.
“I do think there’s more we can do to improve the ways in which we serve students and their mental health,” Turner said. “I think in this current sort of climate, with gun violence and school shootings and things, we need to do all that we can do as a university to make sure that we provide top-notch services. I think we do that [already], and I’m not sure that this request helps us get any better.”
Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services Albert Colom said he would feel better once the Counseling Center is fully staffed, but agreed it is not yet the right time to increase the fee.
Athletics Director Lee Moon asked for a 47 cents increase to the Athletics fee during the last SFAC meeting Nov. 19 to help expand the coaching staff for men’s soccer.
The SFAC agreed to increase the Athletics fee by 29 cents per credit hour to satisfy yearly needs, not necessarily to hire staff. This will make the Athletics fee $19.12 per credit hour for 2015-16.
Turner said, given the status of student enrollment, the coaches and staff currently in place should be rewarded before they can add more staff to the department.
“I think I’d give precedence to the people we’ve already hired before we say we’re going to hire anyone else,” Turner said. “If we need an assistant coach and we get everything straightened out and we’re in a better climate, I think that’s the time to do that. But for now, I don’t want them [Athletics] to be worse off than they were last year because the university’s in a different environment.”
The SFAC also discussed how the Disability Resource Center (DRC) can continue to fund Project Thrive, a housing program created to assimilate students with Asperger’s into the college experience at UNF.
Project Thrive has grown from four to 60 students and the DRC has expressed a need to staff an overseer for the project. However, the DRC can only use the student fee to pay for accommodations for students, not to finance staff.
SFAC Chair Shari Shuman said Student Health Services will have a consultant determine if a third-party billing service would work for the department while also adhering to HIPAA privacy laws concerning patient records.