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On August 19 of this year, the Student Fee Committee (SFC) voted to propose three different annual budget cut scenarios for Fee-Funded Areas, 4%, 7% or 10%. The SFC will spend this budget cycle deciding the cuts for each of the 32 Fee-Funded Areas. These cuts will go into effect starting July 2023.
To members of the Student Fee Committee,
The student workers of various Fee-Funded Areas wish to clearly express our shared disappointment and concern with the forced budget cuts being made on student-operated services and student media. Student jobs continue to be cut while inflation and student fees have increased drastically. With no options to receive funding at our current service levels, the persistent cuts are unsustainable for our already small budgets and will affect our already stretched staff. Cuts to student-run areas leave student workers underpaid and understaffed, which leads to burnout and employee turnover. If our budgets are cut, even at a minimum proposed cut of 4%, the following will occur:
- Reduced student employee hours
- Reduced operating times
- Eliminating unique student employee positions/personnel
- Fewer student leadership opportunities
- Reduced quality of student-operated services
We hope for these student employment opportunities to be prioritized by being clearly stated in the SFC Funding Philosophies and protected in the budget cycle. These cuts and the loss of jobs goes against supporting the basic needs of students. We remind the SFC to be cognizant that student employees use their wage to pay their tuition and student fees as well as their housing costs in the 12th most expensive city in the country. When you force us to cut already struggling students’ wages, roles and hours, you cut off their livelihood and their access to housing, food and education from your university.
The SFC continues to prioritize professional staff over student labor and student needs. This summer, the SFC voted to approve a request to spend last year’s unspent student fee money to fund Campus Rec’s revenue shortfall while a $1,300 student wage overage by student media and a request to utilize $70,000 of unspent student fee money on student wages for the Cultural Resource Centers were denied. Food vouchers, gift cards for students and emergency grants were denied while furniture and office supplies for professional staff were approved. We ask that unspent student fee money supports student jobs, provides basic needs support or goes directly back to students.
Research on higher education consistently demonstrates that participation in extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities are important for building a sense of belonging on campus within students, and that this sense of belonging is a powerful and positive predictor of student persistence. The findings show that this effect is particularly important for the retention of first-generation students and students of color, i.e. those who may not initially feel welcome in the more rarefied and historically exclusionary environment of postsecondary education; these are also both populations that PSU claims to serve and wishes to serve better. Therefore, the cutting of paid student positions not only undermines student success, but has a particularly deleterious effect on precisely those students whose success PSU explicitly claims to be trying to facilitate.
We plead that the Student Fee Committee members vote to maintain the current service level for student-operated services and student media for the 2023–2024 Academic Year, in order to protect the scarce student employment opportunities. The SFC should specifically and clearly outline the protection of student employment within the budget cuts in their funding philosophies and actively avoid cutting small budgets that are primarily student employees. The current budget deficit caused by enrollment decline cannot be solved through consistent cuts that run deep for our small budgets and incapacitate our unique student employment opportunities. We believe the SFC has the capacity to balance the budget in a way that does not significantly impact student labor through large cuts to larger budgets. We demand that you protect student jobs and provide the current service level.
Your Student-Led FFAs,
Littman + White Galleries
5th Ave Cinema