Students to Vote on Fee and Policy Change
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
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Students to Vote on Fee and Policy Change
Students will vote for more than ASUSU representatives next week. Proposals for a constitutional amendment and the construction of a new student Activity Recreation Center have been approved for the ballot.
Both proposals are headed by ASUSU President Erik Mikkelsen. An amendment to the ASUSU constitution and the creation of the ARC could mean changes in the structure of student government and student fees, respectively.
The main purpose of this amendment is to make organizational and restructuring changes, starting with the Graduate Student Senate and ASUSU, Mikkelsen said.
"We restructured the Graduate Student Senate to make it more efficient and to help graduate students get better representation," Mikkelsen said. "We also restructured the ASUSU officers to combine a couple positions and eliminate one of the officer positions."
The amendment would dissolve the Senate due to a lack of student interest in the positions, said Cami Jones, Graduate Studies vice president.
Mikkelsen said another important issue the amendment addresses is the lack of representation for regional campuses.
"Right now, the regional campuses are represented by the Logan campus student government, but we don't really understand their needs, their demographics and anything about their university location," Mikkelsen said.
Instead, he said, the changes will allow for a student body president and vice president to be elected for each campus. The presidents of each campus will meet together as a regional campus and distance education executive board — a council that will be chaired by the Logan campus president.
"(Students) will have an opportunity to express their opinion through elected officers in a way they didn't have before," said Jordan Hunt, ASUSU administrative assistant. Hunt said the last change proposed to the constitution would fix mistakes made in the original drafting of the constitution.
"Quite frankly, many changes are technical," Hunt said. "We found grammatical errors, missing references and lack of consistency in many parts of the document."
The second ballot proposal establishes a student fee to fund the construction of a new student Activity Recreation Center.
If it passes, Mikkelsen said the construction of this project would occur in two parts. The fields would be finished first in fall 2012, at which time a $25 fee would take effect.
This periodic fee payment would continue on a semester-by-semester basis until fall 2015 when the doors of the recreation center open. The charge would then be replaced with a $75 fee. Mikkelsen said the two-stage fee protects students from paying for a facility they would never use.
"Students now, who are not going to be here in fall 2015, will not have to pay for the rec center," Mikkelsen said.
Citing national statistics, he said the recreation center is the second feature investigating students look for in a university. He said the space USU devotes to these facilities falls far short of the national average.
"Even for those students who won't use it, it makes the university a better place because it provides a great recruiting piece," Mikkelsen said.
More recruiting power will bring more and higher-quality students to USU, and eventually that increase will translate to more valuable degrees, Mikkelsen said.
Adding value to education isn't the only benefit Mikkelsen said will result from the construction of the ARC.
"The statistics also show students who use rec facilities tend to get higher (grades) and stay at the university longer," Mikkelsen said. "(Recreation) increases happiness, well-being, grades and retention on campus."
Members of Students Against Academic Waste (SAAW), a campus coalition combining the efforts of various political and artistic groups, disagree with Mikkelsen's support of the ARC.
Mike Rodgerson, president of the College Republicans and SAAW member, said the group sees the project as unnecessarily expensive.
"We feel like this $30 million is a huge expense, period," Rodgerson said. "We feel like it will be a big burden on students. That's an extra 600 (dollars) over the course of one's stay at USU. We also acknowledge that it will probably kill some local businesses here in Logan."
If passed, the two proposals won't be the only change for students. Additional fees totaling up to $16.91 will be instituted fall 2012.
Jason Russell, ASUSU student representative, said he is worried students will see this increase as a testament that the fee board isn't keeping students' best interests in mind.
"I have felt that the students don't recognize the thorough process that these fees undertake," Russell said. "They don't see what goes on behind the scenes."
He said the fee board meets for several hours considering each proposal. The programs board members elected to support this year include the library, Aggie Blue Bikes, Campus Recreation, the Student Health and Wellness Center and Athletics.
Rodgerson said SAAW does not have any complaints with the approved fees.