Student Fee Committee 2018 budget approved

On Jan. 23, the Student Fee Committee’s budget proposal for the 2018 financial year was approved 25-0-1 by the Associated Students of Portland State University senate. The budget, which includes an increase to the student incidental fee of $17, will now be forwarded to university President Wim Wiewel for approval.

The senators expressed confidence in the work of the SFC on the budget proposal, which took over 250 hours to complete. No recommendations or alterations were suggested by the senators in the meeting.

“I think these people were the most qualified to put the budget together, at least in this room,” said Senator Nicholas Hash. “I feel like their budget is the best we’re going to get, and so I can’t see a strong reason to argue with anything on it. I’m gonna put my trust in the committee that they did their job properly.”

To offset the fee increase to students, the SFC included a reduction to the student building fee of $9 per term, and $7 for summer term. Combined with the student incidental fee changes, it would bring students’ total increase down to $8.

The biggest change in budgets is the defunding of Green Roots Cafe, the Rearguard and Portland Review. Since last year’s SFC budget allocation, Green Roots Cafe has closed, and the Rearguard combined with the Portland Spectrum to become student media’s monthly magazine, Pacific Sentinel.
Portland Review was absorbed into PSU’s English department and no longer receives funds from student fees.
Next year’s allocation shows significant increases for both Pacific Sentinel and the Vanguard after the elimination of the Student Media advertising department. The apparent budget increase reflects the loss of ad revenue for affected organizations.

Each of the 39 fee-funded areas saw a 5 percent base reduction from their 2017 financial year budget due to a variety of factors: decreasing student enrollment; increases in cost-of-living allowance and other personnel expenses; and a minimum wage raise from $9.75 to $11.25. The student incidental fee increase will cover the increase in student wages and allow programs such as the Queer Resource Center and Student Legal Services to continue their current level of programming.

One of the goals of the administration had been to increase student wages to $15, but SFC Chair Jemila Mohamed explained that this was not feasible right away and would have required a larger increase in the student incidental fee.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 was something we decided we couldn’t do without a show of wide support from the student body,” said SFC member Andy Mayer.

The university president will have 10 business days from Jan. 31 to either accept the SFC’s proposal or to notify the SFC of any changes under consideration. Once approved by the president, the budget will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees.

“The final recommendation to the [BOT] is due on March 1, and then the [BOT] will meet on March 8, which I assume is when they will make a decision,” Mohamed said. “Fiscal Year 2018 starts on July 1, 2017, which is when everything will go into effect.”

If approved by the university president and BOT, students can expect to see the fee increase in the 2018 Fall Term.