New fees must get three-fifths vote

Backers say the measure increases student responsibility.
Student Fee Review Committee Chairwoman Gwen Daniels speaks to the MSA Senate Wednesday in Memorial Union. In addition to a referendum that passed on the Missouri Students Association election ballot requiring three-fifths of students to support fee increases, the Senate passed a bill requiring detailed budget information before it can approve requests for fee increases. Daniels is a columnist for The Maneater.

The Missouri Students Association's next president wasn't the only thing students voted on Nov. 10-12.

They also passed a proposal re-working future capital projects that would levy new student fees.

The referendum, approved with 75.8 percent of the vote, requires three-fifths of student voters to add or increase a student fee.

Previously, only a simple majority of the student vote was required to increase or add student fees.

The decision is a part an act the MSA Senate Web site says will "take further responsibility for new student fees." MSA Senate Speaker Jonathan Mays first proposed the idea in September.

"I think now more than ever we need higher standards for increasing or adding student fees," he said.

A recent vote at UM-Kansas City to increase student fees for a new student center received 51.3 percent of the vote. The small margin of majority approval raised questions from the UM system Board of Curators on the validity of the referendum and prompted Mays to propose the three-fifths plan.

MSA, the Graduate Professional Council, the Legion of Black Collegians and the Residence Halls Association passed the bill unanimously at their second-annual joint meeting in October.

MSA President-elect Jordan Paul believes it grants student fee increases greater legitimacy. He's unconcerned the requirement will keep anything important from passing.

"The fact is that if a fee increase doesn't have approval from at least three-fifths of student voters then it shouldn't happen," Paul said.

The measure also changes MU's policy concerning when student fee increases take effect. Previously, fees were not increased until the building was made available for students. As a result some students who voted for increased fees were no longer attending MU by the time the increase took effect.

With the passing of the referendum, no less than 25 percent of the fee must be levied the year after the vote is taken.

"I thought it was a great idea when it was brought up in the Senate," Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said. "This shows that students are taking the responsibility upon themselves, at least partly, when they vote to increase student fees."

In another step toward increasing the legitimacy of student fee increases, MSA passed a bill Wednesday forcing organizations seeking increased student fees for the next fiscal year to provide a fee review committee with detailed budgets.

Under this legislation, groups that want the Student Fee Review Committee's recommendation for a student fee increase for fiscal year 2010 must supply itemized budgets for fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Mays, one of the bill's sponsors, emphasized the importance of documents in helping the committee make informed decisions.

The fees for the GPC, the Organization Resource Group, Summer College Readership Program and Missouri Student Unions will be reconsidered when the groups submit the appropriate budget sheets.

SFRC Chairwoman Gwen Daniels, who is a columnist for The Maneater, said all organizations were notified of the required documentation at least a month ago. She said she is working with groups to obtain the documents.



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