Despite previous failure, Privilege Fee Committee again recommends decrease for UPC budget

After a budget recommendation for UPC failed in student senate, the Privilege Fee Committee meets for the second time in one week to vote on a new bill. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

In a special meeting, the Student Governing Association’s Privilege Fee Committee met on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. before the regular student senate meeting to vote on and hopefully pass a new budget recommendation for the Union Program Council after the first bill failed to pass last week.

The recommendation they voted out of committee was identical to the one that failed on Jan. 31. If this recommendation does not pass, UPC will not be able to plan its budget for the coming fiscal year.

Without an approved recommendation by the student senate, UPC’s budget hung in the balance, which necessitated the passage of a recommendation through the Privilege Fee Committee. As committee chair and junior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny said, the failure to pass a budget recommendation cleared the slate and, with it, essentially the entirety of UPC’s budget for the coming fiscal year.

In its entity review presentation, UPC requested a continuance to its current student fee allocation of more than $210,000, which was subsequently denied. That decision passed out of the Privilege Fee Committee unanimously on Nov. 12.

The original recommendation for a two percent decrease failed by one vote after more than an hour of heated debate and a 15-minute recess to discern whether the vote required a two-thirds “yes” vote for approval.

Going into Thursday’s meeting, Hannah Heatherman, student senator and junior in finance, held firm on the initial recommendation. In looking at UPC reports, she said she found “instance after instance” of student dollars being “wasted” on giveaways and promotional items that added no value to the K-State experience.

“After listening to this for two and a half months, I just feel strongly convicted that those first decreases would come from the tangible things, not the intangible that build community,” Heatherman said.

Throughout the meeting, topics of conversation included student affordability, food insecurity, the Tuition Fees and Strategies Committee and prospects for outside funding for UPC and other privilege fee entities.

Rajat Kodira, at-large committee member and junior in industrial engineering, made the first motion early in the meeting for a continuance, honoring the original request UPC made more than two months ago.

Alec Hildreth, student senator and senior in marketing, debated against the motion.

“I do agree that UPC does their job and they do a good job, but, just based on conversations that I’ve had and what I’ve noticed, they could do the same good job with less money,” Hildreth said. “With this decrease, I’m not trying to save students money, I’m trying to make sure that the students’ money is being utilized to its fullest potential. I’m not saying that they’re going to be better served saving [19 cents] because that’s not what I think. I think that as a [committee] we should look at how much money they have and if they are utilizing it to 100 percent because that money is coming from students.”

The motion for a continuance failed with seven against and five in favor.

Hildreth motioned for a two percent decrease, alluding back to the original recommendation from the committee.

Hildreth said despite the previous failure of an identical recommendation in the student senate, he believes this would pass.

“UPC has demonstrated how they are being smart with their funding,” said Jonathan Cole, student senator and senior in mechanical engineering. “I just feel like it’s foolish of us to say that we’re saving students’ money by arguing about a 19 cent decrease per student.”

Madison Brown, vice chair and sophomore in business administration, originally voted for a two percent decrease to UPC, but debated against the new motion. She said she feels the committee does not represent the student body as a whole and she felt the need to vote for the students who weren’t in the room to have their voice heard.

Ultimately, the recommendation for a decrease passed with seven committee members in favor and five against.

The new recommendation, identical to the original, Penny said, is expected to be introduced to the student senate on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Wildcat Chamber. The only thing different in the bill will be the “whereas” clauses at the beginning, Penny said, which essentially explain the background and reasoning for the committee’s decision.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.