Last chance for student fee funding

The student fee process at Portland State is nearing an end as student groups make their final cases for continued, new or increased funding.

This week, the Student Fee Committee has been hearing appeals from groups based off of their initial allocations, which were released over the last couple of weeks. Many groups received adequate funding initially and did not appeal. Others were zero-funded initially for a variety of reasons, including questions about their budget or simply the fact that they had not attended budget school, a program the Student Fee Committee (SFC) runs each year to go through the budget process with members of various student groups.

Generally, “appeals are going well,” Tracy Earll, SFC Chair, said.

Even the PSU chapter of the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) was willing to compromise with SFC requests in their budget this year. Last year, the group faced severe cuts when their budget came under SFC scrutiny and only received $20,000 of the approximately $120,000 they had asked for.

This year, OSPIRG asked for a similar amount and the SFC initially zero-funded them, recommending they come back with a proposal similar to the $20,000 they received this year.

They came back with $106,460 instead, although last year OSPIRG refused to change their request at all. Earll noted that this year they are being much more cooperative.

“It’s definitely a different feeling with OSPIRG,” she said. “They seem to have addressed a lot of concerns.”

Earll also noted that the University of Oregon’s OSPIRG chapter was given less SFC funding, and she feels that PSU’s chapter has accepted a similar situation.

Another big group was Smith Memorial Student Union. The building is funded through student fees and revenue incurred from groups such as Aramark and the university itself, which pay rent for the space they use.

Except this year, the university informed the managers of SMSU that they want to pay less for the space they are using. Earll asks, “When do you tell your landlord you’re going to pay less rent for the same space?”

After figuring out how much time and space the university uses in Smith, it was learned that they were asking to pay about $60,000 less than they should be for the upcoming year. The university claimed that Aramark pays $60,000 more, so that makes up for the revenue.

But Earll noted that Aramark rents retail space, which, by industry standards, has higher rent rates.

The Sustainable Community Media group was a new request this year, seeking $39,000 to continue the group, which they claim was funded through the Student Organization Council last year, a requirement for any group seeking SFC funding.

The problem: they can’t prove they were SOC funded. Additionally, Earll noted, she has not seen them practice what they hope to do. It is not likely, she said, that they will get funding.

The Rearguard, an on-campus liberal publication, went to appeals over the money allotted for its writer payroll. Currently, Rearguard writers are paid on a stipend level, which is too high for the work they are doing, SFC members noted.

“We were concerned with writers getting paid $108 per story,” Earll said.

SFC members suggested establishing a writer “honorarium,” which would pay writers on a per-story basis, approximately $25 an article, similar to what Vanguard writers get paid.

Earll noted that hopefully, by allocating enough money to pay for 12 stories a month, there will be more student-written articles in each of the monthly issues.

Student government also asked for more money to pay the five members of their judicial branch, the Evaluation and Constitutional Review Committee (E&CR).

Current E&CR Chair Micheal-Sean Kelley argued that he and the other committee members put in an extensive amount of hours and work, enough so to deserve a stipend pay, like certain other members of ASPSU. The student senate voted in support of paying E&CR members.

Allocations based on these hearings will be made next week.