Student Voice panel tackles student fees

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A panel discussion on student fees capped off this semester’s Student Voice forum—but only a small number participated.

The panel included Student Body President Dylan Swartz, Executive Vice President Phil Varney and Phil Clegg, an associate dean over students.

Kari Dennis, Senator over College of Aviation, who organized the event alongside business school senator Birch Eve, said she counted about 60 people entering and leaving, though close to half of those were donning the black tag of student council.

“The devil’s kind of in the timing. We’re so close to finals,” Varney said. “Unfortunately, the way student hearings are placed, we just have to do it this time.”

He added that they might consider doing this earlier in the semester to offset the stress of finals preparation.

Dennis, however, rejoiced in the fact that she saw new people attend the forum.

“There were a lot of new faces that we haven’t seen. Normally we have the same faces at every one,” Dennis said.

Despite low attendance numbers, Varney pledged that Student Voice forums aren’t going away because they’re a valuable function of student government to increase transparency.

“Never will it be a question of, ‘Why should we even have these?’” he said. “These will always happen, even if no one comes.”

Earlier segments the Student Voice series included an open forum for general concerns and a specific panel on parking, the latter of which was well attended and became particularly combative. In this panel, only half a dozen questions were asked at all, and the meeting ran only 45 minutes.

In the beginning, the panel spoke for about 20 minutes, giving students the rundown of how student fees are determined and how they can attend those meetings. Dennis believes this contributed to the lower number of questions, as some had already been answered.

There was also a handout for each audience member, which broke down where student fees go. (See pie chart.)

Ultimately, 44 percent of fees go toward paying off the Student Life and Wellness Center and Sorenson Center bonds (as well as operation costs), about 30 percent to athletics, 19 percent to student activity (clubs, programs and events) and smaller amounts for health services, campus computer labs and UTA subsidies.

The panel encouraged the audience to give input through comment boxes around campus, social media and the Student Voice option on the UVU app. Swartz also invited students to be apart of the budget discussions, which take place during the Spring in the senate room in the Life and Wellness Center, though only senate members can cast votes.