Regents might pass refundable fee

By Dina Paluzzi

SPRINGFIELD – NIU students might be asked to pay another fee if the Board of Regents approves a $1 refundable fee for the Illinois Student Association at the board meeting today in Springfield.

The Regents’ finance and facilities committee decided to make the recommendation to the Regents yesterday.

If approved, students could be asked to pay the fee in the fall semester of 1989. The fee would be collected each fall for a two-year period.

The ISA would not receive any of the fees collected until all of the refunds have been made. The collection and refund of the fees would occur during the fall semesters.

The majority of the committee members, including NIU Student Regent Nick Valadez and Illinois State University Student Regent Dan Wagner, supported the fee. Sangamon State University Student Regent Brian Hopkins was the only student Regent who opposed the fee.

Valadez said the fee is necessary. “I hope the organization will (serve as) a tool used to educate students politically and get them active,” he said. “Somewhere along the way, students need to be informed.”

The board decided not to vote on the issue during its May meeting because there was a lack of information available about the organization.

In May, Regent Milton McClure said the ISA needed to define its basic legal structure and organization, form an advisory board and insure input from the NIU students.

Committee Chairman McClure and other committee members yesterday thought the ISA had sufficiently answered the Regents’ questions and had met the criteria the board requested.

Starrett proposed a nine-member advisory board, which would consist of three professionals such as a lawyer or an accountant, designees from each campus, ISA alumni and at least two members of the government. The committee would meet quarterly or at least twice a year, he said.

opkins said he was concerned about the ISA’s recent application for a tax exempt status and the ISA members’ roll as student lobbyists. The ISA filed for a tax exempt status allowing contributions to the organization to be tax deductible by the donors.

Starrett said he did not anticipate a problem with the tax status and the lobbying. “We probably don’t spend 20 percent of the gross receipts lobbying,” he said.

Lobbying is not one of the ISA’s major purposes, Starrett said. The ISA is involved with networking Illinois college students and informing campuses about student issues.

Wagner said that although a referendum had not taken place at ISU, he supported the fee. “If the students of a university support a fee, then the board should support it,” he said.

On January 28, 1988, NIU students voted for the refundable fee. Yes votes were cast by 299 students while 49 students voted against the fee. The President’s Fee Study Committee then approved the fee.

NIU SA President Paula Radtke told the committee that the fee is needed. She said the only way the state will grant more funding to higher education is if students are involved.