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News
Fee faces time crunch if OK'd by students


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Photo by ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT
If passed, the $15 student activity fee would help fund on-campus concerts and multicultural events, bring speakers to the UA and pay for movies at Gallagher Theater. Online voting runs today until Wednesday.
By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 5, 2004
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If students pass the proposed $30 per year student activity fee this week, fee organizers still have to fight time constraints and overcome logistical hurdles before it can be finalized.

Student leaders, who are waiting for election results to come in before making any concrete plans, have yet to develop a timeline for how the fee would be implemented.

"I'm going to be honest: A real defined timeline is not in place yet," said Associated Students of the University of Arizona Sen. Nick Bajema, who worked on the fee proposal. "But we know what needs to get done."

If the Arizona Board of Regents approves the fee April 29, fee organizers will have less than three months to implement the fee before students receive their tuition bills July 14.

In that time, fee organizers have to assemble a Student Activity Fee Committee, select three students at large, establish the role of the committee, hold budget discussions with the Budget Office, choose a refund policy and talk to the Bursar's Office.

All this would have to be done in the midst of finals, commencement celebrations and a transition of power in student government.

Both the budget director and Bursar's Office representatives said last week that those proposing the fee had yet to contact them.

Bajema said student leaders haven't discussed the fee with the Bursar's Office or the Budget Office because Melissa Vito, dean of students, said she would take care of the details.

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But Vito said it would be up to the newly appointed Student Activity Fee Committee to figure out logistics with the Bursar's Office.

"We have looked at what processes are available," Vito said. "But we thought it would be best to nail down the details if the fee passes, with the Student Activity Fee Committee working with the Bursar's Office."

In addition to working with the Bursar's Office, the newly appointed fee committee must also sit down with the Budget Office to work out monetary details.

But that committee wouldn't be put together until after the regents meeting, at which time finals begin and the main organizers of the fee graduate.

Bajema, president of the University Activities Board Greg Billings and student body president J.P. Benedict graduate in May.

Bajema said fee organizers are considering "putting a couple of students on board" to work with the budget directors.

But ASUA Sen. Blake Buchanan, who voted against holding the election today, said that process "usually takes awhile," anywhere from two weeks to a month, as students must work around the budget director's busy schedule.

Nine organizations need to select representatives, either by vote or nominations, for the fee committee, which will meet for the first time this summer.

ASUA Sen. Matt Harris, who worked on the fee proposal, said the newly formed committee would need to discuss possible bylaw changes, percent allocations and other details.

"They are going to have to set their own precedents," Harris said.

In addition, the committee must choose the three students at large who will also sit on the committee and decide how to handle requests for funding.

"There is no set way to do that. ... It could be fairly complicated or fairly basic," Harris said. "We are giving guidance and clarification."

Applications for the three unaffiliated representatives, which are still in the process of being created, will be available at the end of the school year, even though most students go home for the summer, Bajema said.

"If someone wants to apply but is not here this summer, it's not a problem," Bajema said. "We can do things such as e-mail or calling."

Jani Radebaugh, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, has said she is concerned the unaffiliated students will be chosen from organizations already represented on the Collaboration Board.

Alistair Chapman, president-elect, and Billings said their organizations are prepared to handle the fee.

"I'm comfortable, but I'm cautious," Chapman said. "It's a large amount of money. ... To be comfortable is a dangerous thing. To be cautious is the right attitude."



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