Committee settles fee controversy

By Michael Berg

The President’s Fee Study Committee was busy Thursday, deciding to withdraw the athletic fee request in lieu of voting on it, recommending to cut student fees altogether for The Northern Star and voting to recommend raising student fees 44 cents a credit hour for the health service.

Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, motioned that “the athletic fee recommendation be withdrawn at this time.”

Williams said the athletic fee should remain the same in 1994. “Any further consideration of the increase in the athletic fee should be brought back to this committee before it’s brought anywhere else,” Williams added.

“There’s been a lot of misconception of who benefits from the recommendation,” Williams said. Allowing this particular fee request to divide this campus is counterproductive, he said.

“The loser here in fact is the academic area,” Williams said. The $340,000 this proposal would have generated for academics is now not available, he said.

NIU President John La Tourette has said the athletic department must drop its reliance on general revenue funds. Athletics will lose $500,000 in fiscal year 1994 and $300,000 in fiscal year 1995.

“These dollars will go to academic affairs,” Williams said. “This plan was to generate an additional $340,000 next year for academic affairs.”

The committee members voted to withdraw the request. Student Association President and committee member Paul Middleton abstained from the athletic fee vote.

The committee also voted to end funding for the Star. “The overall goal of this committee is to streamline,” Middleton said. “The Northern Star is not a student organization.”

The only students that have anything to do with the paper is the students who work there, Middleton said. Also, the paper has said in the past that it doesn’t need the student fees, he


Middleton said it came to his attention recently that “the Star doesn’t have an affirmative action program and is not an equal opportunity employer.” That’s not what this school is about, he said.

Student Association and committee member Nelson Perez said the Star does not have affirmative action because they hire anyone who comes in off the street. “They are an equal opportunity employer for reasons that they hire anyone in the

first place.”

The money the Star has been receiving from student fees is going toward an equipment reserve to update their computer system and a building fund to pay rent when they move to the Campus Life Center, Committee Chair Donald Davidson said.

“The Northern Star is a luxury to a lot of people,” said Anastasia Criscione, vice president of the SA and committee member. “As for updating the equipment, we can’t even update the equipment in the health center. I feel we need to prioritize.”

Tony Lopykinski, SA treasurer and committee member, said most of the Star’s revenue is through advertising.

The only way for student organizations to advertise themselves is through the Star, Lopykinski said. It is very expensive for ads and most non-profit organizations can’t afford it.

Local businesses get the best deal out of the Star, Lopykinski said. These businesses that benefit can pick up the tab and make up for the fee loss through advertising, he said.

Davidson mentioned the fee for the Star is refundable, but committee member and graduate student Sarp Uzkan said “most students are not aware of the refundability.”

“If the Star would like to go to subscriptions, they are welcome to do so,” Middleton said. “When students are made to pay for the paper, it’s not conducive to student life.”

“There obviously has been a running feud ever since I’ve been here between the SA and the student newspaper,” said John Tuecke, committee member. “But I think it’s very important the student newspaper not be under the influence of any organization and have the freedom to say what they think.”

The motion to delete the 12-cent per credit hour funding for the Star passed with five votes and one abstention. Of the five who voted to zero fund the Star, four were members of the SA, while the fifth was Uzkan. Davidson abstained.

The committee voted for a 44-cent per credit hour increase in fees for the health service. The health service had originally asked for a 68-cent increase.

Dana Mills, associate director of the University Health Services, said the requested fee increases are to cover inflation, a projected budget deficit for fiscal year 1994 and salary and wage increments.

Mills gave several reasons UHS needed the fee hike, including the contract for the gynecology clinic, possible costs related to their move back into the Health Sciences building, a permanent reduction in general revenue funds and a reduction in student fees because of declining enrollment.

The committee cut the request from 68 to 44 cents, citing the fact the cost of the move and the gynecology expense were short-term, while a fee increase would be perpetual.

The committee reviews and makes recommendations for fee levels for the upcoming year to La Tourette. The recommendations must be approved by both La Tourette and the Board of Regents to take effect.