Spring could bring fee increase

By Jerry Lawrence

The recommendation for a student fee increase to fund athletics might be approved by the President’s Fee Study Committee before the next meeting of the Board of Regents on Feb. 18. The Regents are scheduled to hold a teleconference meeting the same day.

NIU President John La Tourette said even if the recommendation comes from the committee before that meeting, it will not be voted on until later this spring.

“I am going to take 10 days or more to review it. Then the staff reviews it and then it goes to the (Regents) Chancellor’s staff for review and it is not scheduled to be reviewed until March at the earliest, or maybe April,” La Tourette said.

The proposed $4.01 increase will be implemented over a five-year period if it is approved by the President’s Fee Study Committee, La Tourette and the Regents.

Don Davidson, assistant provost for Resource Planning said a recommendation from the President’s Fee Study Committee, which he chairs, might be ready by Feb. 18.

When asked if the committee would try to have a recommendation ready before the meeting for the Regents’ approval, Davidson said, “I know nothing about that. We are going to try to give a recommendation to him (La Tourette) on or about the 18th or maybe later. That’s all I know.”

The fee increase was proposed last Thursday by NIU Intercollegiate Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell. O’Dell said the fee increase is necessary to maintain a status quo among NIU athletic programs.

The fee increase is contained in a proposed recommendation that would pull all general revenue funds out of athletics and put them into academics. General revenue funds are appropriated by the legislature from state tax dollars.

If the fee increase is approved by the fee study committee, it then will be given to La Tourette for approval.

If he approves it, he will hand the recommendation to the Regents who must approve any increase in student fees.

The Feb. 18 Regents meeting is subject to call and will be conducted through teleconference.

NIU Student Regent John Butler said the fee increase should not be voted on by the Regents in such a meeting because it would not allow for any significant discussion of the issue.

“I would be very disheartened if this would be brought up in a teleconference meeting when it affects so many students,” Butler said.

He said students should be allowed to express any concerns they might have to the Regents before it is voted on.

Butler said he refuses to comment on the issue until the Student Association Senate voices its opinion on the matter.

The teleconference meetings usually are used for the approval of minor business matters that come up between regularly scheduled Regents meetings.

La Tourette said student fees frequently are discussed at Regents meetings in April.

Anne Groves, executive secretary to La Tourette, said there is not a set agenda for the meeting yet. She said similar meetings have been cancelled the day they were scheduled because there was no agenda.