ASG: no fee decrease for UP

In one of the longest ASG meetings of the semester, the senate voted not to write a recommendation to the Board of Trustees that University Programs’ funding be cut by 25 cents per credit hour.

The Student Tax Relief Act of 2006, sponsored by Senator Blake Pennington, failed in a 15-23 decision Tuesday night. The act, Resolution 16, proposed that ASG support a decrease in the amount of the Student Activity fee given to UP.

If approved, the ASG president would draft a letter to the Student Fee Review Board, Chancellor John A. White, the Board of Trustees and “all other interested decision -making parties,” to ask for a decrease.

Pennington said only about 13 events put on by UP attract large numbers of the student body. He said with the proposed student fee for the ASG Concert Committee, UP funding that goes toward bringing music to the UA campus should be reduced. Pennington recommended that UP sponsor mid-level events and concerts, while the proposed Concert Committee focus on top-level concerts.

Pennington said he wanted to bring UP’s fee down to that of ASG’s student fee. He said that UP has been irresponsible with its financial accountability.

“Why are we giving so much money to a group to sponsor 183 events that only brought in 500 students,” said Pennington.

Opposition to the resolution included Senator and UP President Dwayne Bensing. He said cutting UP funds would limit the number of events that UP regularly puts on for students.

“If we cut this program, then we won’t enhance student life,” Bensing said. “Just imagine 13 events a year.” The cut in UP funds would create a university environment where students cannot interact and enjoy themselves on a regular basis, Bensing said.

“I think the student body will benefit over all,” said Pennington. “[The resolution] will show that we can make decisions as tax-payers and that we’re willing to make [needed funding] cuts.”

Several senators vocally opposed the resolution, included including Jordan Green and Adrielle Churchill.

“ASG’s responsibility is not to program,” Green said. “That is the job of UP. It would be a disservice to take that away from them.”

Churchill agreed with Green that it was not ASG’s responsibility to limit the work of UP.

“If we have issues with the way UP is run, we should bring it to the students,” she said. Churchill suggested that the proposed recommendation be presented to students as a referendum.

“I was just trying to offer some options,” Churchill said after the meeting. “I wanted people to weigh the student view and [the view] from administration.”

If ASG members want to be involved in decisions about what UP sponsors, they should apply for positions in UP, Bensing said.

Senator Robbie Jones said that he couldn’t understand why the money couldn’t go towards events that benefit a greater number of students.

Jones said, “More students are paying into [the UP] fee than they are getting out of it.”

At one point Jones asked a senator opposed to the resolution if it were fair for Robbie to have to pay for some other student to see a movie.

Concerns over the movies sponsored by UP were also expressed because they draw the lowest number of people.

During its session, the senate also approved Resolution 15. The resolution calls for talks to begin between ASG and Mullins library to stay open 24 hours per day during final exams week. Resolution sponsor Kristi Hunter said that Mullins officials have seemed eager to work out the possibility of extended hours. Hunter said that costs and safety are concerns expressed by the library.

“We might be working with other areas and groups to allow students to study somewhere,” said Hunter. “Right now only the Union is open.”

ASG also began its session with a presentation by G. David Gearhart, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement. Gearhart presented a detailed summary of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century to the senators. He talked about the various efforts being put forth thanks to the gifts and donations made during the billion dollar campaign.

“Colleagues across the nation are talking about ‘The Arkansas Miracle,'” said Gearhart.

Asked about possible tuition increases, Gearhart said it was “in the discussion phase” but the UA was working to keep it as low as possible.

– Arkansas Traveler, March 16, 2006

[Original piece available here.]

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