K-State Libraries, Wildcat Watch present to SGA Privilege Fee Committee, request funding

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The Kansas State Student Governing Association’s Privilege Fee Committee met on Monday evening to discuss the possibility of adding two services to the list of those funded by the campus-wide mandatory student fee. Despite being delayed by a tornado warning, representatives of K-State Libraries and Wildcat Watch presented to the committee to request funding.

Due to budget callbacks in fall 2016, Hale Library discontinued its policy that allowed students to have access to the library all hours of the day, Monday through Friday, which resulted in negative feedback from many students, said Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries at K-State.

A survey of 868 K-State students showed that 84 percent would be willing to annually pay the proposed $6.25 addition to the privilege fee to allow Hale to return to its previous 24/5 schedule and extended weekend hours.

Haden Botkin, sophomore in secondary education and a K-State Libraries student ambassador, said that students who cannot afford computers or internet at their home or that have jobs requiring them to work late hours are negatively impacted by the reduced hours. Though the K-State Student Union is open 24 hours Sunday through Thursday, Botkin said that the Union does not provide the same resources that Hale provides students.

Goetsch said that there has been a 13 percent decrease in the library’s workforce, taking away important custodial staff, and security staff that are essential for keeping Hale open for 24 hours during the week.

“We’re really concerned about student safety, about your safety, and we want to make sure that we’ve got a security presence there overnight,” Goetsch said.

Goetsch told the committee that the $120,000 created by the $6.25 yearly privilege fee would pay for the custodial and security services required to keep Hale open for extended hours.

Among those attending the meeting that raised concerns about the proposal was Trenton Kennedy, junior in entrepreneurship and student body vice president, who suggested that it could be more cost efficient to improve technology and resources along with adding quiet spaces for study in the Student Union, which is already open 24 hours on most days. Kennedy also said that statistics on library usage in late night and early morning hours should be taken into consideration.

Committee members also discussed the possibility of the library being more proactive in making students aware of the 24-hour availability of the Student Union for studying and doing school work.

Wildcat Watch

Following K-State Libraries’ proposal, seven members of the student-oriented video production group Wildcat Watch requested $150,500 for the first year, and $65,500 for subsequent years from the Privilege Fee, that would allow them to become their own entity. According to their page on the K-State website, Wildcat Watch currently operates under guidance from the Division of Communication and Marketing’s Video Production Services team, but is not financially supported by them.

“Wildcat Watch videos provide outside audiences a positive glimpse inside of this university,” Max Stewart, senior in entrepreneurship and social media director and web manager, said. The content created by Wildcat watch is strictly student related.

Clarissa Weers, senior in mass communications and executive director, said that the Student Centered Tuition Enhancement fund no longer provides enough funding for Wildcat Watch to keep up with the project requests it receives. Wildcat Watch has multiple requests from on-campus organizations to create promotional content, some of which have had to be turned down due to lack of funds, Weers said.

When asked why Wildcat Watch is not a paid for class that students receive credit on their transcript for, Weers said that the group tried repeatedly to join as part of a practicum after they lost their association with the school of journalism and mass communication, but only became associated with the Division of Communication and Marketing at the last minute.

The committee also questioned why Wildcat Watch does not require on-campus organizations to pay for their services. Weers said that many student organizations do not have enough in their budget to pay for the cost of videos that Wildcat Watch creates.

Weers also said that the only promotion Wildcat Watch currently has is social media.

“We don’t have a budget for promotion and that is something we’d like to increase because … right now we’re reaching half a million, but we think that could be more if you just throw in the $5, you could boost that post,” Weers said.

The next Privilege Fee Committee Meeting will be held in the Office of Student Activities and Services (OSAS) Conference Room in the Student Union next Monday, March 13.

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