The final Student Fee Committee debates took place in the Multicultural Center Monday. As with previous forums, attendance was low, with around 15 students attending. Issues addressed centered around a few major topics.
The final Student Fee Committee debates took place in the Multicultural Center Monday. As with previous forums, attendance was low, with around 15 students attending. Issues addressed centered around a few major topics: the tumultuous relationship with SALP; the athletics budget; bringing the benefits of SFC funding to the student body and hiring student employees; and building student involvement in both the democratic process and student activities as a whole.
Jil Heimensen, chair candidate
A major focus for Heimensen was the implementation of more open, responsive student government, especially through an upgraded SFC Web site with budget breakdowns and student feedback (www.psusfc.com, twitter.com/psusfc). She argued for neutrality in doling out funding, and nonpartisan outreach to get more students involved in student government.
Frustration with the administration and interference in the process was another theme.
“It’s really difficult when you bring the budget to the president, and he tells you what to do,” Heimensen said.
She expressed concern about the lack of focus on commuters and other nontraditional students, arguing that many of these groups don’t have access to opportunities provided by fees they must pay regardless.
Johnnie Ozimkowski, chair candidate
Ozimkowski was more conciliatory on relations with SALP, saying that, “making empty threats just derails everything.” Instead, he said, the SFC should focus on building communication and cooperation with SALP.
“It’s our job to communicate to the student groups so we don’t have a problem,” he said, arguing that they were “like sheepdogs” and ultimately necessary to keep student government in line.
He laid out a unique position on athletics funding and administrative oversight, pointing out that “more students go to Lacrosse games than football games, but lacrosse players have to pay $1,200 per term while football players get free-ride scholarships.” The SFC needs to do more to communicate with coaches about possible budget reductions, some of which are supported by the coaches themselves, he said.
Elizabeth Anderson, member candidate
Anderson argued for stricter scrutiny of student groups and the impact of student government sponsored programs.
“The SFC should make a distinction between groups that exist to serve their members and that exist to serve the entire student body,” she said.
She said that, beyond a few examples in Business and the Urban Studies schools, “PSU doesn’t really have anything that benefits the entire state and the local economy.”
“I think students groups exist to hire students, and when a position a student can fill exists, they should hire a student,” she added.
James Gent, member candidate
While acknowledging concerns with the shortcomings of SALP over the years, Gent pointed out that “SALP was an unstable system, but it’s only a year or two old, and the more often you restructure it radically you’ll get a recipe for instability.”
He expressed strong support for current athletics funding.
“There are student groups that receive 10 times more funding because they use it,” he said, adding that athletics provides opportunities for the school, students and local businesses.
Aly Rey, member candidate
Unfortunately arriving late because of a class, Aly Rey still provided the Vanguard with information on many of the subjects addressed by the debate.
“There is absolutely no way we will increase [student fees] and we can make sure of this by… planning well,” she said.
She condemned the implementation of controversial SFC efforts this last year to promote racial and gender diversity while approving of the general goal.
“Though it is a noble cause, it should not be an agenda held by the SFC members,” she said.
Danny Sobolev, member candidate
Discussing the SALP reform efforts, Sobolev admitted that the SFC should sometimes take severe steps, saying that, “if students don’t get funded we’re still doing our job.”
However, he said he supported SALP for the time being.
“We’ve got to realize that there are programs here to benefit people—SALP has a great role and does a great job,” he said.
He was more noncommittal about athletics funding, arguing for stricter scrutiny because of the high cost of trips and equipment.
Waddah Sofan, member candidate
On the SFC’s relations with SALP, Sofan expressed support for the controversial funding freeze and task force implemented by ASPSU this year.
“We felt uncomfortable with SALP advisory members,” he said, arguing that SALP needed both initiatives to deal with pervasive complaints from student groups.”
He said wants to make the SFC more effective year to year by having new members get a chance to learn from their predecessors, working on budgeting as a group and communicating more effectively with liaisons.
Sofan also expressed frustration with the president’s interference with the proposed SFC cuts to athletics programs.
William Zimmers, member Candidate
While acknowledging that “there always needs to be critique, and there’s always room for improvement,” Zimmers expressed approval of SALP’s administrative efforts.
He spoke out strongly in favor of fiscal discipline and cutting student fees, saying, “I’m looking to make cuts.” This would benefit the student body as a whole, as many can’t afford more fee increases, he said.
Zimmers applied this philosophy to athletics funding, agreeing with Ozimkowski on the importance of outreach by athletes.