Problem plagued SGA to vote on Student Service Fee increase

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The Student Government Association will vote tonight on whether to support one of the new and increased fees brought forth by SHSU President James Gaertner last week.Were only voting on the Student Service Fee, said an official from the SGA office.SGA President Stephen Sargent said he will put forth a referendum on whether to support the other fees proposed by Gaertner when the SGA Executive Committee meets. The referendum, he said, will be an effort to present the new fees to the student body.At last weeks meeting Sargent and more than one senator openly voiced support for the fees.What were trying to do is bring up the quality of the teaching, of the education, of the facilities here, Sargent said. And if we remain at a fee that weve had for the last three years, as prices and the cost of living goes up, were going to be behind.The Student Service Fee increase proposed by Gaertner would raise it from $150 to $171 per semester.The combined proposed fees would boost students tuition and fees cost by 17.3 percent, or $251 based on a 15 credit hour workload.If SGA votes to support the Student Service Fee at tonights meeting, its decision will give the administration a greater platform on which to propose the new and increased fees to the Texas University Systems Board of Regents. Gaertner is scheduled to attend the Board of Regents meeting on May 8 and 9, when the Board will decide whether to pass or deny the proposed fees. According to Gaertners assistant, a draft of the agenda involving the fees has already been submitted to the Board. The way it works in the United States is students dont run the university, Gaertner said in response to questions at the SGA meeting last week. The administration runs the university, but we should get your input.Meanwhile, perceived problems within SGA over the past year will not make the decision any easier. When I became a member of this organization, student government, it was with great honor, said Senator Tyler Broughton at last weeks Student Government Association meeting. Now, under the conditions that we are experiencing, I feel that I am no longer honored to be a member of this organization.With the current (SGA) administration, it has been one big headache, said Broughton, who resigned from his position as the Rules and Regulations Committee chair last week.Broughton became an SGA senator a year and a half ago, and was appointed Rules and Regulations chair by Sargent last fall.I was told last summer there would be problems, he said, adding that a lot of people who joined SGA around the time he did have since resigned.Broughton said the former SGA treasurer, who was voted in last May, resigned from the post shortly after taking office because of undisclosed problems.The former SGA vice president resigned last November for undisclosed personal reasons.Sargent, who has been involved with SGA since he was a sophomore, said conflicts within the organization are commonplace due to the fact that different members come from different departments of the university.Has the past year seen more problems than previous years?From the presidents position, said Sargent, you see a different view of things, but I dont think so.Senator Mike Kaatz said every organization has conflicts. The degree of the problems intertwined within the SGA depends on who you ask, said Kaatz.The controversy of increased fees has been growing at universities from around the state during the past year, and on a national level since the 1970s.On the campus of the University of Texas, students protested after legality issues were raised about proposed fees by UT administration.Last month, Texas A&M System Regents approved the largest student fee increase in the history of the school, costing students an additional $30 per credit hour, or $450 for 15 hours.The A&M student government supported the new fees.”We realize that the fee is unfortunate, but also that it’s necessary,” said April Somers, vice president of policy for the Texas A&M SGA, in a recent interview. “Otherwise, some of the staff and faculty will be fired, and we may have to close some of the departments.”The situation at UT was very different however; its student government came up with a counterproposal for the new fees proposed by the administration.”Students understand that there is a need,” said UT Student Government President Matt Hammond in an article that appeared in The Daily Texan. “But we don’t feel it is the students’ responsibility to fund the university at the level that they’re asking us to.”Hammond spearheaded the counterproposal, Partnership for the Future: The Students’ Response, where students agreed to pay a sum equal to half of the proposed fees if the administration did a better job campaigning for funds during the next legislative session.On a higher level, the topic of increased tuition and fees has been brought to the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education in Washington, D.C.Topics discussed in Washington have dealt with the fear that if the price of a college or university education rises too quickly or too far, certain types of higher education will eventually become available only to the wealthy.The student government of SHSU will discuss the controversial issue at the SGA meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in the Evans Building Room 105. Students are welcome to attend.I think that our enrollment is going to dip next year, said Gaertner. Its going to dip for two reasons; number one, because our increased admission standards. And number two, because if we have additional fees that will affect it.