Student Gov prepares for budget meeting

In Minnesota State University, Mankato’s weekly Student Government meeting held over Zoom on Mar. 17, things appeared to be picking up for the organization as their large budget meeting begins next week. 

The presentations began shortly after roll call was completed.

The first to present was Student Health Services with their budget report. This service provides many resources to students. Among the list is the medical clinic where they provide many quality and affordable health services to all MNSU students. 

The clinic, pharmacy and health education are the three areas the facility focuses on. Some services provided are medical exams and consultations, access to affordable medicine, and psychological healthcare. 

It is an important service to have on campus, especially during the time of a pandemic. Some of the statistics reported that 86% of the patients are off-campus and 65% of all students were non-international students at the heath service. 

Their goals for the next year are to continue to expand telepsychology or using a virtual system to meet with students, support mental health initiatives on campus, adapting to the changing needs of the pandemic and to plan for a health services facility. 

Although they have not received an increase in budget for the past three years, the health service is pushing for the increase this year as salary accounts for 75% of the overall budget. They are pushing .08 cents per credit hour to help suffice the rent increase of 2.5% for the rent of the COVID-19 center and a $1,000 increase to employee health insurance costs. 

“I believe that the proposal by Student Health Services is more than reasonable,” said Senator Joey Novack. “Medical treatment and mental health are especially important, and personally I am in favor of the proposed increase.”

The next to present was Academic Affairs with a budget reduction proposal. They started with a $2 million budget in an effort to reduce their costs for the next year. To help with that, they eliminated 27 faculty positions, fixed term hires, investments in student support and more. 

They have been undergoing many revisions, small group discussions, and open forums to figure out what is needed within the budget. The plan is to cancel searches for various positions, cancel positions for people who will be departing and an additional $150,000 cut in administration. The organization will be working on an ongoing process to figure out what they need to do in order to help students succeed.

The next presentation came from Provost Matt Cecil and Vice President of Finance and Administration Rick Straka on the online tuition differential. They are looking at what it would cost to remove the online differential cost that would lead to an increase in tuition. A 2.85% increase in tuition would allow them to break even to what it costs to pay for online courses. It is believed that it would be cheaper for students to remove the online differential fee with the increase of tuition.

The Athletics Fee Advisory Committee was next to present on the intercollegiate athletics fee. There are currently 18 Division ll and two Division l athletic programs at MNSU. Student athletes are paying for about 75% of their education. 

This program sustains more than 900 student participants within the community. They are currently at the lowest budget allowance compared to the rest of their Minnesota State counterparts and one of the largest programs in the Minnesota State program. They are proposing a 2% increase, or 4.08/credit hour increase. This will help keep up with the increases in costs and the decrease in revenue the athletic department experienced during the pandemic.

“Regarding the 2% Increase for Intercollegiate athletics, I agree with the 2% fee increase for intercollegiate athletics,” said Senator Jack Wheeler. “Although this will only increase the per credit budget by around 8 cents for students, I believe that it will help our athletics continue to be successful.”

Wheeler continued on to say, “I would not agree with this fee if our hockey were not as successful as it was. I think that our Division I hockey team here puts a good face on what it means to play a sport here at MNSU.”

After all topics were discussed, the meeting transitioned over to senator reports. 

The first to present was Senator Audrey Hopwood. She is working on bias training for the Community Advisor selection committee as well as trying to incorporate more diversity to the campus community. She is working hard to provide this type of training to help Residential Life better choose future CA’s. They are going to be testing this method by using the desk staff interviewers as a trial run before it will be used in the CA interviewers.

The next to present was Senator Mendonca. He is communicating with Senator Alimo for projects within the College of Business. His main focus is providing real world experience for students within the University. He is also working on a student ambassador program in the COB, developing a strategic plan for new adaptive education styles and working to create job opportunities for students, especially international students.

To wrap up the meeting, Senator Ruiz talked about how she met with the Student Basic Needs Committee to work on increasing advertising in hopes of reaching more students who may need help. 

They are working to create a basic needs hub that can guide students to different places on campus that provide the services they may need. She has also made a survey to help combat international students from being discriminated against in the on-campus workplace.

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