Privilege Fee Committee approves partial increase for Student Union allocation


Over the course of several weeks of reviewing the K-State Student Union allocation, the Privilege Fee Committee voted to grant continuances to three of their allocations and an increase to the operations budget.

The allocation to the Union is divided into four total budgets — repair and replacements, repair and replacements reserve, food subsidy and operations — totalling a nearly $5 million operation. This allocation is second only to Student Health Services and altogether, makes up more than 25 percent of the entire privilege fee fund.

The Union requested continuances on three of their four budgets, but asked for a three percent increase on its operation budget allocation. The K-State Student Union Operations budget amounts to $1,716,698, the biggest of the four Union allocations.

Corey Williamson, director of the Union, said the increase would prioritize student employee compensation. About $35,000 of the more than $50,000 additional funds would be dedicated to raising the Union minimum wage for student employees in order to “maintain and sustain” staffing.

Williamson said a continuance or decrease of any amount could impact the building’s hours of operation.

“We like to consider ourselves pretty much the community center of campus in being able to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways,” Williamson said.

The committee passed a continuance to the food subsidy budget unanimously, extending the allocation of $80,000 for the next three years without much discussion.

One thing the Union requested was an amendment to the stipulations of the Repair and Replacement Reserve allocation. As it stands now, the Union must request to access money from that account and each fiscal year, $25,000 flows into that account, but it cannot exceed $250,000.

The Union requested that the executive director have the discretion to transfer surplus in the Reserve account to the Operations budget, which is a separate account.

Hannah Heatherman, student senator and junior in finance and integrated investment management, moved for a continuance that would include a stipulation that any movement of funds out of the Repair and Replacement Reserve surplus into Operations must be approved by Privilege Fee. The motion passed 11 to zero to continue the allocation of $419,227 for the next three years.

As for the request of the three percent increase for the Operations budget, the committee deliberated at length, ultimately deciding to grant the increase.

Madison Brown, vice chair of the committee and sophomore in finance, said she felt reluctant to take a stance on the allocation.

“I might be slightly in opposition … to an increase,” Brown said. “We just fought very long and hard to save some students’ money and I guess, I don’t know, it is kind of hard for me to increase this fee.”

Alec Hildreth, student senator and senior in marketing, motioned for an increase of three percent.

Rajat Kodira, at-large committee member and junior in industrial engineering, said he would support this increase because of the impact it will have on student wages.

Donald Riffel, student senator and junior in computer science, said he would support an increase as well.

“The money from this increase would go directly to the functions that are serving students,” Riffel said. “Spending students’ money to better serve the students who are paying for it, I think that’s an appropriate use of privilege fee since it is to privilege students.”

The motion passed 10 to one.

These recommendations to continue and increase the budgets will likely appear for first reading in student senate on Thursday, March 7.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the 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.