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Change protects funding for FHSU groups

12/30/2013

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

An increased investment in Tiger Media Network and stabilizing University Activities Board funding shouldn't mean increased activity fees for Fort Hays State University students.

"We did some creative accounting," said Chris Roberts, an FHSU junior and Student Government Association president.

Roberts said TMN and UAB were pulled out of the SGA allocation process, and each will be supported by its own fee. That will be offset by lowering the overall student activity fee.

Since the fiscal climate doesn't support increasing fees, the total student fee of $5.57 projected for next year is "exactly what it was this year," he said.

The student senate voted last year to lower the reserve fund.

"When we came into office, we were facing a shortfall," Roberts said. "If we did nothing, student organizations would have lost more than 14 (percent) or 15 percent of what they were awarded last year. By going this route and pulling those major entities out, we're seeing more of a leveling off. There will still be a decrease overall, but it's not as hurtful as it would have been if we wouldn't have done anything moving forward."

The student senate also eliminated the inflation increase approved in 2008. The increase, which added 47 cents per credit hour on average, had been added to all fees across the board.

The new activity fee structure, known as FUNDLE (Fund for University News, Diversity, Learning and Engagement) was approved by the student senate last month and sent to FHSU President Edward Hammond for his signature.

The activity fee change protects funding for the After Dark program, a deterrent to drinking for those on campus and in the community. It also will allow UAB to plan ahead and book bigger-name acts and activities, Roberts said.

Under the allocations system UAB didn't know its budget until late March.

"Most high-value acts are already booked (by then), so (they) have to settle for lesser known acts just for the price range," Roberts said.

With secure funding guaranteed perhaps as much as two years in advance, "they can book those acts and be able to solidify the contracts as well."

The activity fee earmarked for TMN is just one piece of their funding.

Hammond has pledged that the FHSU president will match the students' contribution every year, Roberts said.

"The third leg (of TMN funding) is the business aspect. They're creating the ad revenue and generating supplemental income. That way, it's run like a business, but it has a sustained income source -- at least two portions along with that ad revenue as well. That means students will have some opportunities."

The FUNDLE bill also placed limits on the student senate's power. Funding for TMN and UAB can't be cut by SGA by more than 5 percent of the previous spending level.

"That way no matter what, there will be a stable income source," Roberts said.

It took time to educate the student senators about the bill.

"It was a complicated bill. As far as I know, nothing like this has ever been passed here," Roberts said. "It was a very long bill. It had a lot of specifics in there, so it took a lot of time just to be able to educate everyone what they're voting on."