SGA held a town hall meeting in the Eagle Student Services Center on Tuesday that informed attendees about student services fees and provided the opportunity to ask questions directly to representatives from the Division of Student Affairs.
Student service fees are paid by every student that are enrolled at UNT, according to the Student Financial Services website. These fees cover the cost of, but not limited to, the UNT Athletics programs, constructing and operating the Recreational Facility on campus and for the purpose of operating, maintaining, improving and equipping the Student Union.
“I didn’t count how many, but that’s actually a lot that we pay for that we didn’t even realize,” SGA Outreach Director Allison Quisenberry said.
Other university-related services that are covered by these fees consist of environmental services, technology use, library use, undergraduate advising, transportation, international education, publications, medical services and the overall student service fee.
Paying specific fees are only mandatory towards certain groups that take part within the university such as students that take place in certain colleges to seek out a master’s degree. The College of Business, Information and Education hold these required fees when furthering one’s education in their field.
“It’s up to the committee to determine what the priorities are and where they want to allocate their funds,” Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Elizabeth With said. “It can vary from year to year. The committees want to honor what previous committees have done in years past.”
With has served alongside the committee since 2010 and has gained experience through the interactions of organizations and the committee.
Opening the floor for questions, organizations such as the UNT Debate Team and the UNT Moot Court Team spoke out about the fear that held for the future of their organization status.
“Essentially, we [UNT Moot Court] heavily rely off of student fee funding because it is very expensive for us to travel across the country, so for us to completely rely on our own volition would be incredibly challenging,” Senior Moot Court Team Treasurer Jordan Hyden said. “We would not be able to continue having a large amount of people on our team. We had over fifty kids try out and we could only accept twenty of them, so we had to let go of amazing talent and potential in order to fund this.”
UNT Moot Court is a competition-based organization that travels across the country with teams of undergraduates to hold mock appellate arguments and argue mock Supreme Court problems that occur at law schools.
“Essentially, we help better both the political science and pre-law departments by bringing expose to these students who are trying to find both community and connections,” Hyden said. “If we have our funding cut and we don’t accept any more funding that we are going to be undercutting other students that want to be a part of this program and that is going to be suspending opportunities for these students.”
Throughout the meeting, With brought attention to the displacement of student service fees and their relationship with organizations on campus.
In 2018, With said that roughly 13 to 14 organizations were cut in funding.
“Each area that receives funding or that wants to receive funding, comes and presents to the committee each year and talk about what they’ve done, if there was an increase or decrease, what they didn’t do and about requesting funds for the upcoming year,” said With.
Following the meeting between the committee and organization, an executive summary is sent to the account holder of the organization.
The UNT Debate Team spoke out about the continuous cut of funding they have received and have not obtained any sustainable strategies to make up for the gap.
“We really want to know, specifically, what we can do to better prove, not why we are deserving of funding, but have an increase enough funding,” Josiah Atkinson, a UNT Debate Team member, said. “Organizations such as the NT Daily are expected to be phased out and student ran for our funding and that would basically block out a lot of the impoverished communities that can’t access those activities.”
Although With could not speak on behalf of the committee this year, she gave insight about how the committee, in the past, want to fund things that the majority of the students can participate in.
“If there’s proof that a few numbers of students that participate in, there have been less likely to want to fund those entities,” With said. “They [the committee] want those entities to go out and search for other funding, whether it be from a department, the union or if they fundraise.”
The determining factor on if an organization is funded by student service fees or other organizations on campus is from the will of the committee and who they want to adjust funds towards and or continue the process of funding for the organization, according to With.
Featured Image: Moot Court President Victoria Nevarez speaks during SGA’s town hall meeting on Nov. 12, 2019. Image by Ryan Cantrell