Governmental Relations Committee’s student fee hearing

Commentary Opinion

A much larger crowd than usual attended the Governmental Relations Committee meeting Monday evening March 26 to hear information on the proposed student fee. The questions on most everyone’s mind was, “How would the revenue be used?” and “What services would be cut?” The student fee, with a working title of Save Our School, is simply that, a source of revenue to maintain current spending levels. That is only part of the equation. The new fee could generate as much as $930,000 in the next academic year but only about half of the $1.6 million needed by the university. The remaining $700k would come in the form of cuts determined by the administration.

The SOS proposal clarifies the spending through line items that deal with departments under student services. These are determined to be the items most important to the students. Most students I spoke with agree that a fee is necessary and acceptable to fund the university. However, many worry that the funds will not be used for intended purposes. The undetermined cuts trouble students because no one knows where the axe will fall next, not even those wielding the axe.

The administration is not in an envious position. Governor Nixon is demanding that all universities do more with less. President Obama echoed those same sentiments in his State of the Union address. Therefore, let us do more with less and think outside the box. Missouri Western prides itself on applied learning. What the administration should do now is take advantage of our years of training. While it may not be easy to open the ledger to students, the time has come to sit down with a student task force to discuss the proposed cuts. A fresh perspective from those of us who have seen the impacts of staff and faculty reductions from the inside of the classrooms might make a difference.

Budget reductions should not just mean an increase of fees or reduction of services. For instance, Barnes and Nobles is an excellent bookstore. Missouri Western staff and students from the Craig School of Business could run the bookstore cheaper and more profitably. The leasing of land for hay brings in some money but corn, soybeans or tobacco would bring in more.

The SGA is also stuck in a difficult situation. They have the option of passing the fee through the Senate but that comes without the confidence of the student body. The students should vote on the fee once the university comes forth with budget. Yes, the semester is winding down and time is short, but with voracious, competent campaigning, I believe the student body would support a fee. It is only a matter of the SGA and the administration believing they can do it.

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