Concluding the Fall 2021 semester, the Student Fee Assessment Committee (SFAC) finalized their proposal for a fee reallocation, a proposal that has since been rejected by Interim President Pamella Chally. President Chally instead recommended the committee keep fees the same until the state increases student fees. However, the Counseling Center still desperately needs an increase in funding to both run smoothly and meet necessary standards.
The Counseling Center has struggled to meet the standards of the International Accreditation of Counseling Services (IACS). In order to meet these standards, the Counseling Center needs money to afford more full-time employees. This lack of available personnel has dramatically lengthened the center’s waiting list, making it difficult for students to receive necessary counseling.
In Dec. 2021, the Counseling Center approached SFAC with a proposal to increase their fee by $0.43 per credit hour, a bump that would add $182,320 to their budget. Because the state government has not increased student fees, the committee would have to take the money from another source and reallocate it toward the Counseling Center.
The Student Fee Assessment Committee passed their proposal with a majority 5-3 vote after a lengthy debate on what fee to decrease in order to increase the Counseling Center’s funding. Ultimately, five members of the committee agreed to decrease the Athletics fee and increase the Counseling Center’s fee. The following members were in support of the change: Student Government (SG) Vice President John Grosso, SG Treasurer Mikhaela Alforque, SG Student Advocate George Boston, SG Senate Pro-Tempore AJ Likosar, and the Hicks Honor College Dean Jeff Chamberlain.
The following members voted to reject the proposal: Vice President of Administration & Finance Scott Bennett, Vice President of Data Analytics Jay Coleman, and Associate Vice President of Administration & Finance Vince Smyth. These three members agreed that the Counseling Center needs more money; however, they did not agree with reallocating funding from Athletics. They believed the proposal would be rejected.
All the committee members were in agreement that administration should help the Counseling Center instead of it being determined by student fees. The administrators in the committee agreed but explained that nothing is guaranteed on the university level.
The Student Fee Assessment Committee submitted the proposal to decrease the Athletics fee and increase the Counseling Center’s funding by $0.05 per credit hour. In total, a $0.05 increase would contribute approximately $21,000 to the Counseling Center.
During a meeting between Interim President Chally and Committee Chair Besirevic, Chally informed Besirevic that other campus organizations previously agreed to reallocate money to the Counseling Center. Academic Affairs reallocated $160,000, the President’s Office reallocated $100,000, and Administration & Finance reallocated $108,000. In total, the Counseling Center received $368,000 as of Dec. 2021, according to Chally.
Even with this increase, the Counseling Center still needs $182,000 in funding to fully function and abide by IACS standards. The university says that this issue will be addressed during the planning process of the budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The university administration considers helping the Counseling Center a top priority, and say they are committed to provide the necessary resources.
Since funding could be drawn from other sources, Interim President Chally recommends the committee keep the same fee proposal as last year with no increase in the Counseling Center fee. Athletics, SG, Parking & Transportation Services, Health Promotion, and Student Health Services did not request an increase in fees, so the decision to keep fees the same will not affect their ability to function.
The committee’s proposal must be accepted by Interim President Chally before being sent to the Board of Trustees for final review and implementation. On Jan. 6, President Besirevic sent an email to all committee members asking to vote on whether they should meet again and reevaluate changes, or adhere to Interim President Chally’s suggestion.
As a result, seven members of the committee voted to keep fees the same while one member voted to reconvene. With the majority, Besirevic sent President Chally the recommendation to keep fees the same as last year. The Counseling Center will not receive an increase from the A&S fees, but the university remains confident they can help with funding.
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