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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students prioritize fee use

    Improving access to financial aid, expanding academic support and career-opportunity programs and health and wellness initiatives, were the most-supported funding options, according to the 2010 Student Services Fee Survey results released this week.

    The results will be used in part to determine allocation priorities for the approximately $2.5 million collected each year through the UA student services fee, an $80 fee paid by each student.

    Other initiatives with heavy student support included continuing $3 Wednesday lunches in the Student Union Memorial Center, campus safety and security enhancements, specified career counseling and sustainability initiatives and programs. All of these were supported by at least 73 percent of respondents.

    In contrast, social responsibility and justice programs and expanding film options in the Gallagher Theater, in the SUMC, had the lowest amount of student support at 35 percent and 34 percent respectively.

    Jen Meyers Pickard, a senior research specialist who compiled the survey data into the report, said she believes the survey is “”relatively representative”” of the priorities of the student body. She also praised the higher student response rate this year, where 4,887 students, or 12.4 percent of the total student population, filled out the survey, compared to 10.5 percent of students in 2009 and 9.5 percent in 2008.

    “”This is going to be a nice tool in helping assist determining funding priorities for next semester,”” Meyers Pickard said.

    The survey is part of a larger process of fund allocation carried out by the Student Services Fee Advisory Board, which is made up of seven undergraduate students, four graduate students, and six faculty advisors. The results of the survey will help the board determine funding priorities next year.

    Leo Yamaguchi, a physiology and nutrition major and co-chair of the board this year, says that many of the top priorities identified in the survey this year were also listed last year.

    “”It’s good to see that students are consistent in what they focus on,”” Yamaguchi said.

    He also said that, while the survey results will be used to help the board in their decisions on funding, they are only one factor that will be considered.

    “”Basically the survey, at least for me, is a starting point for discussion,”” Yamaguchi said. “”From here, we can examine the reasoning behind why students responded the way they did, then we can determine priorities from there. We can discuss everything and really see if it’s something students need to improve their education here at the UA.””

    There were several areas where there were large differences between different student groups in terms of their support for initiatives. There were three instances with more than a 20 percent difference between undergraduate student responses and graduate student and professional ones: upgrading and improving Student Union facilities, funding for graduate student academic travel, presentations and professional development and expanding career-related opportunities.

    Yamaguchi commended graduate students serving on the board and said he welcomes their input so that the needs of graduate students are not neglected. “”It’s important to us to make sure the graduate student voice is heard,”” Yamaguchi said. “”That’s why they chime in, because as an undergrad I don’t understand some of the issues they face and what they’re thinking, their mindset.””

    By and large, responses from minority and non-minority students were not significantly different, with one exception being funding for social responsibility and justice programs. Forty-five percent of minority students supported the initiative, as opposed to 29 percent of non-minority students.

    All told, 21 out of the 30 funding initiatives on this year’s survey received support from a majority of respondents, and all but two received support from at least 45 percent of students.

    Each year, university administrators determine what funding initiatives will be placed on the survey. These are determined by what administrators think students view as priorities.

    The Student Fee Services Board weekly meetings will be held starting Jan. 14 and will continue until final decisions are made the week of Feb. 28 to March 4.

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