Student fee reallocation considered for minority groups

Monday, February 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:41 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Campus minority organizations would benefit financially and could gain new members and service opportunities if MU approves a proposed reallocation of student fees.

The Missouri Students Association recently passed a bill to establish a Multicultural/Diversity Student Fee of $3.19 to encourage cooperation between underrepresented students. Organizations such as the Legion of Black Collegians, the Asian American Association, the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, and Four Front all support the bill.

Among justifications for the allocation is the success of a similar diversity fee in place at the University of Wisconsin. The LBC, in particular, has expressed an interest in working with other minority organizations, but the lack of funding has limited the opportunities.

“If this fee goes into place, all of those organizations will definitely benefit, as well as all the organizations under Four Front,” said Marianne Clark of the Student Fee Review Committee in an e-mail. “This fee will give these groups much more of a presence and hopefully give them the ability to expand the way that we’ve been trying to increase diversity on this campus for years.”

HALO president Juan Camilo Pineda said that if the bill is passed, he hopes it will help his organization attract new members and publicize its activities, as well as open up new event opportunities.

“We’re on dimes and nickels now,” Pineda said. “We’re a small population, but we’re growing. More funding would definitely be helpful in getting our organization more members.”

The $3.19 per student would be applied each semester. It would not constitute a new charge for student bills, but would be a reallocation of fees that already exist. Thus far, the bill has been approved by the fee review committee and the UM Board of Curators. It is now before Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs.

Clark said the fee review committee is in the process of working with the diversity groups on campus to put together guidelines that would help organize how the fee would work.

“Nothing is final yet as to if this fee will be in place for the fall,” she said.

A board consisting of members from campus groups would determine who gets funding from the fee. The bill recommends that the LBC receive 45 percent of the reallocation; the AAA receive 20 percent; HALO and Four Front each receive 15 percent; and 5 percent for Triangle Coalition, a university LGBT organization.

However, Clark said, the details of the proposal are still being worked out.

“I’m sure there will be some restrictions as to how the groups can spend this money,” she said, “but that will be outlined in the guidelines that we are in the process of putting together, so at this point I don’t know what they will be.”

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