Student senate held a special meeting Thursday evening to special order and approve privilege fee cuts recommended by Student Governing Association leadership and the Privilege Fee Committee. Most entities received a cut of some sort — excluding SGA and Counseling Services.
By special ordering the bill, they were able to bypass the typical procedure which enabled them to introduce and vote on the bill in one meeting. Usually, the process takes at least two meetings.
The bill passed with 37 votes in favor, one no vote and three abstentions.
The combined adjustments to the $16 million privilege fee budget resulted in a cut close to $218,000. Based off of the current fee model, it could save students approximately $5 a semester. During the last academic year, students paid about $472 a semester in privilege fees.
Privilege fees pay for operations at the K-State Student Union, Recreational Services, Lafene Health Center and other on-campus service providers. Collegian Media Group, the nonprofit that oversees the Collegian, is also a privilege fee receiving entity.
While most entities took a three percent cut, some outliers include Lafene, the Union, SGA and Counseling Services.
Student Health Services saw a three-quarters of a percent cut. Speaker of the student senate and senior in political science and communication studies Nathan Bothwell said this was a balance between financial needs and student health needs.
As one of the biggest receivers of the privilege fee, Lafene accounts for close to $6 million of the overall budget.
Counseling Services wasn’t decreased at all in order to preserve current staffing levels needed to serve the student body’s mental health needs.
The Union, which receives a series of allocations to different budgets, received a 20 percent cut to its Repair and Replace Reserve Account.
SGA did not decrease their own privilege fee allocation of $77,165.
Prior to this meeting, Bothwell, along with Privilege Fee Committee chair and senior in finance Madison Brown and student body president and senior in secondary education Tel Wittmer made recommendations to the Privilege Fee Committee about what entities should be cut what amount. Those recommendations were voted on and approved by the committee before they were brought before the student senate Thursday evening.
“It is important to note that we’re really trying to be conscious and aware of getting out in front of making sure our privilege fee is sustainable in the future for other Wildcats to enjoy,” Wittmer said.
Before the review began, the directors of all privilege fee entities were alerted that they would need to provide financial impact statements for a two to three percent cut to their allocation.
For the last few years, the privilege fee account has come up short, requiring emergency funds to be moved from the Debt Reduction account. The budget amounts are set, and the amount students pay individually is based on enrollment. As enrollment declines, the individual cost to students increases.
Bothwell previously said the university expects enrollment to decline as students and their families grapple with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Ultimately, these budget recommendations will still need to be approved by President Richard Myers and eventually the Kansas Board of Regents, who will meet in June to make decisions about all tuition and fees at all member schools.
These funding decisions would take effect at the start of the coming fiscal year and will remain the contract between the entities until their next review cycle.
Student senate will not reconvene until 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 3.