Student Senate to Make Tough Budget Choices

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Noah Finco, University Government Reporter

On Wednesday, November 10th, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse Student Association discovered it needs to make some difficult decisions.

UWL Senior and Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC) Chair Rachel Ramthun updated the Student Association on the committee’s budget. There is a projected decline in enrollment for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. This decline comes after UWL failed to meet enrollment projections for the 2016-2017 fiscal. The combined declines account to about a $25,000 decrease in revenue for the university.

Currently, SUFAC is unable to increase segregated fees to make up for the loss in revenue. Segregated fees are additional fees charged to each student to fund various programs and groups on campus such as sports, the MTU buss pass and the campus radio station. These fees total to about $1331.79 annually per student.

Despite record enrollment for the incoming freshman class, UWL is struggling to retain other types of students.

“There is significantly fewer international students and more part time students who don’t pay the full segregated fees,” stated Ramthun. “There are the same number of students, just different types of students.”

There were a variety of solutions presented to the Student Association. One solution presented was cutting some extra routes on the MTU Bus service. SUFAC proposed cutting extra routes MTU provides to the Valley View mall as well as starting the Safe Ride route and hour later. UWL currently pays $187,000 annually for students to use the bus service for free. Negotiating with MTU has proven difficult in the past however.

“There are grants plus state and city funding that lowers the price what we pay to MTU. In the past they haven’t been very willing to negotiate on pricing,” claimed Ramthun.

The second option was to cut funding to the UWL Green Fund. The Green Fund collects $60,000 per semester to propose and fund projects that make UWL more environmentally sustainable.

Projects the Green Fund has funded in the past were LED lighting for the New Student Center which saves energy and cuts costs. They also funded various REC additions such as LED lighting, low-flow shower heads, recycling stations, variable frequency drives, motion sensor sinks, water fountains with bottle fillers, air handling equipment sensors. These improvements cut costs for the REC and allowed the REC to fund more programs and keep for student staff positions.

“We worry that solutions such as making cuts to the Green Fund would only be a temporary solution,” asserted Ramthun. SUFAC hopes to combine cuts with creating new revenue streams to minimize the impact to groups using SUFAC funding.

Suggestions for new sources of revenue were making Free Movie Friday cost $1 or charging students to attend UWL sporting events.

UWL Student Association has spearheaded an effort to make cuts to lessen the need for more drastic measures.

“President Schimmel and I went to the SUFAC meeting and requested that they cut our budget by 10%,” proclaimed UWL Student Association Vice President Patrick Brever. “We are looking for opportunities to prevent cuts to groups like the Green Fund and hope others will follow our example.”

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