USUAA votes on proposed student fee modifications

Mandatory student fees are reviewed every four years in order to evaluate whether adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate for various factors that lead to a fluctuating budget. On Dec. 7, USUAA held their weekly assembly meeting where, after hours of discussion, they voted to endorse or not endorse the proposed modifications in their official resolutions.

The USUAA assembly spent several hours discussing the nuances associated with endorsing each proposed fee modification at their meeting on Dec. 7. Photo by Joey Carreon.
The USUAA assembly spent several hours discussing the nuances associated with endorsing each proposed fee modification at their meeting on Dec. 7. Photo by Joey Carreon.

UAA’s Academic Innovations and eLearning, Student Activities and Parking Services departments all proposed modifications to their fees to USUAA in hopes of gaining their endorsement. These mandatory fees are a means of allocating university revenue to departments’ budgets, which ultimately operate to serve the student body at large. These fees are paid, along with tuition, on a semesterly basis by each student enrolled at UAA — with some fees’ amounts being dependent on how many credits a student is enrolled in.

Along with each department proposing their fee modification requests to USUAA over the course of prior weeks, representatives from each department also participated in an open forum that gave students the opportunity to view each departments presentation, which highlighted the reasoning behind their requests for modifications to their department’s fee. This forum was moderated by USUAA and it took place in the Student Union on Oct. 29.

Parking Services requested an increase in the Transportation fee to $19 per semester for students enrolled in three or more credits — a $6 increase. This increase is projected to bring an additional $114,000 in revenue to Parking Services.

A staggering majority of the USUAA assembly voted to not endorse an increase in this fee, as per reasons highlighted in their official resolution.

“The Union of Students of the University of Alaska Anchorage does not support transferring departmental costs onto students without their consultation, and recommends the administration ensure students are a part of the decision making process in the future,” Resolution #19-02 stated.

They then continued in their resolution by urging Parking Services to go about increasing their budget through other means, such as increasing the cost of parking citations.

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Academic Innovations and eLearning proposed modifications to the Technology, eLearning and ePortfolio fees. It was proposed that the three fees be combined, rather than increased individually, for the sake of maintaining a consistent budget amidst fluctuation in enrollment.

The possible methods of combining were: a flat $75 fee per semester, capped at a maximum of $225 per academic year, or $11 per credit hour, with a cap at 12 credit hours and a maximum of $396 per year.

However, USUAA’s Resolution #19-03 did not endorse either of these methods but proposed instead to consolidate the eLearning fee and Technology fee into a flat fee of $67 with the ePortfolio fee being its own, separate $8 flat fee.

Members of the assembly expressed support for consolidation, as the resolution to support the modifications to the Technology, eLearning and ePortfolio fees passed unanimously with no objections.

Student Activities proposed a new fee of $6 per credit hour for students enrolled in six or more credit hours — a $1.50 increase from the current fee.

After discussing whether or not to endorse a $1-per-credit increase versus a $1.50-per-credit increase, a majority of the USUAA voted in favor of passing Resolution #19-04, which endorses the originally proposed $1.50 increase by Student Activities. Several USUAA members prefaced their support by expressing the importance of the fee increase enabling more paid university employees and the funding of campus-wide activities for the sake the student body at large.

While the decision is ultimately made by university, USUAA’s endorsement is an extremely important part of the modification process.

“USUAA’s endorsement is one of the crucial keys to make [fee modifications] happen,” USUAA President Geser Bat-Erdene said.

Following USUAA’s decision to endorse these modifications, “resolutions will be sent to all departments and then each area would send a memo requesting the modification to their vice chancellor,” USUAA adviser Kim Morton said.

Following this, the executive decision of what fee modifications pass is ultimately left up to Chancellor Cathy Sandeen.

For more information regarding each department’s original proposals, refer to The Northern Light’s recap of the student fees open forum.