The Kansas State Student Union will reduce services for three years because of low enrollment and a freeze on tuition and fees, according to a new bill passed unanimously by the Student Governing Association on Thursday, March 10.
Before the bill’s passage, the Student Services Fee Committee reviewed the Union’s budget to find the least impactful cuts it could make. Some of the changes include stopping the Union’s contribution to free weekend parking and game-day shuttle bus services and removing the information desk staffing, according to a copy of the bill provided by Max Harman — Student Services Fee Committee chair and leader of the effort to close the University’s deficit — via email.
Harman said in Bill 21/22/89 that the need for reductions arose because of a decline in enrollment, which resulted in a decrease in Student Services Fee revenue.
“The total [insufficient funds] callbacks were just shy of $2 million,” Harman said. “Our job as a committee is to get to a point where we lower that total allocation down enough that we’re no longer running that deficit.”
The total campus budget is independent of the number of students — the budget stays the same regardless of enrollment. Therefore, in standard years, less full-time student enrollment would cause an increase in the Student Services Fee because fewer students pay the fee. However, because of the moratorium on tuition and fee increases imposed by the Kansas Board of Regents, Union budget decreases are necessary to fix shortfalls in the fee budget, Harman said in the bill.
“Our goal is to get back to equilibrium where the cost of the fee is balanced with how many students are paying into it — is balanced with the total amount of money we’re giving to entities,” Harman said.
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The committee believes reducing the Union’s budget over the next three years is the best way to reach equilibrium.
“These reductions will have no impact on the amount students pay for the Student Services Fee,” Harman said.
This year’s Union budget was set at $1.7 million. It will drop to $1.61 million next year, $1.56 million for 2023-2024 and $1.53 million for 2024-2025. The bill’s changes and cuts will start at the beginning of the next academic year.
One of the bill’s most noticeable cuts included free weekend parking at the Union parking garage, and the cost might now have students thinking twice before using the service.
“Sometimes residents like to store their cars [in the parking garage] overnight if there’s supposed to be a storm, so their car is protected,” Cameron Kotwitz, junior in computer engineering, said.
Although Kotwitz said he thinks eliminating information desk staffing will impact first-year students, and returning students will have to get used to the parking garage changes, he does not believe the changes will be detrimental.
Cody Bourbon, sophomore in civil engineering, said he isn’t too concerned about the upcoming cuts.
“Honestly, if [the changes] don’t have that much of an impact, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Bourbon said. “I’m interested in seeing what comes next and if it is to affect me.”
Other changes include eliminating two vacant Union positions for the next three years, a 10 percent reduction of the student employee budget and the implementation of additional service charges for meeting spaces.