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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

UPUA Stands Firm On Student Fee Reorganization

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) has proven, at least for the moment, that the voice of the students can not only be heard, but can matter. Last night, the UPUA Assembly of Representatives voted overwhelming (19-1-0) to reject and condemn the administration’s proposed reorganization of the Student Activity Fee.

The planned reorganization, which was scheduled to be rubber-stamped at today’s meeting of the Student Activity Fee Board (SAFB) encountered fierce criticism from UPUA President Gavin Keirans and rebukes from more than a half dozen students who attended specifically to speak against the proposed fee reorganization. The GSA President-elect, Alfonzo Mendoza, also spoke against the fee reorganization as currently planned.

Facilities Fee Decision Tabled (TDC) — After heated debate on the addition of a $200-per-year facilities portion to the student activity fee at University Park, the Student Activity Fee Board on Friday tabled the decision until a future meeting.

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Gail Hurley said, at this time, she will not make any recommendation to Penn State President Graham Spanier regarding the facilities portion of the fee. She will, however, recommend a $6 increase to University Park’s current $68-per-semester student activity fee.

The reorganization, being pushed by the administration through various closed door “conversations” to use interim Vice President Gail Hurley’s word, would have completely re-purposed the Student Activities Fee (SAF) into a new “Student & Facilities Fee (SAFF) and would cause an automatic increase in the fee — currently $68 per semester — to more than double the per-semester cost to over $175.

Now, due almost entirely to last night’s rejection by the UPUA Assembly of Representatives, the administration in the Student Activity Fee Board (SAFB) was forced to postpone a decision on their planned reorganization and renaming of our activities fee. How things turn out over the next few weeks are anyone’s guess, but we should stop for a moment and marvel that, as maligned and derided as student government so often is for being ineffective, their staunch opposition based on this fee based on their constituents’ wishes is worth commending.

When we talk about the ideal of strong shared governance and effective student government at Penn State, strong and unyeilding representation and defense of the students by their elected leaders like we saw today to halt (at least for the moment) the expanded facilities fee is what we’re advocating.

I don’t think most students necessarily have a problem with fees, so long as the funds are controlled by elected, accountable student leaders. The UPUA, together with the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), the University Park Allocation Commitee (UPAC) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) have the opportunity to prove their worth through strong leadership, either by rejecting this fee entirely, or ensuring sole control by appropriately organized, elected, accountable students they decide.

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What’s this? Students, spurred by their democratically elected leaders, speaking up and condemning a rash and nontransparent administrative decision?

Beauty, for now. Keep this up, though, lest the administration think we’re done making them look again at their over-reaching monetary actions.

Congrats! A victory for students!

Its good to hear something has gone in our favor, now keep it up. Just watch your backs, because its only a matter of time until the administration finds another backstabbing, traitorous piece of trash like Galen Foulke to derail things for us again.

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