Health and Wellness, Graduate school see largest decreases in student service funding

Health and Wellness, Graduate school see largest decreases in student service funding

Health and Wellness, Graduate school see largest decreases in student service funding
September 13
13:05 2018

In this year’s round of Student Service Fee Advisory Committee funding requests, a number of organizations saw significant budget cuts, including some within areas the committee deemed priorities, according to documents signed by the then-chairperson and Elizabeth With, the vice president for student affairs.

Although the committee lists things such as student success/retention and wellness as “priorities” when allocating funds to organizations this year, some of the organizations with the largest cuts encompass those priorities. Several of the largest budget increases also encompass those priorities.

Additionally, at least two organizations were informed of the committee’s intentions to be “weaned off” funding, including the North Texas Daily and KNTU — both of which are student media.

The committee reviews and decides all student service fee budget requests. The committee sets a priority list to determine how much money is allocated to organizations each year.

In order of importance, the priorities this past year were: student success/retention, diversity/inclusion, wellness, Mean Green morale and satellite campuses.

The organizations and entities with the largest decreases in funding this year are Health and Wellness (-$143,964.27), Toulouse Graduate School (-$81,400) the Learning Center (-$46,084.81), Career/Leadership Development (-$45,745.51) and Graduate Student Council (-$30,545).

Infographic Kelsey ShoemakerHealth and Wellness, which received the largest funding cut, encompasses the Student Health and Wellness Center and Counseling and Testing Services, both of which offer medical and mental health services to students on campus.

The organizations and entities with the largest increases in funding this year are Marketing and Budget Support for the Vice President of Student Affairs ($284,264.21), the New College at Frisco ($163,966.04), the Career Center ($73,046.86), the Dean of Students’ Conduct Operations ($40,367.67) and the Student Activities Center ($38,697.51).

Infographic Kelsey Shoemaker

While Marketing and Budget Support for the Vice President for Student Affairs had the largest increase, the budget for

2018 only listed it as “Budget Support.” The two are still the same organization because its organization codes and numbers are the same on the obtained documents. The large increase may have come after encompassing marketing.

Each year the committee meets to review requests for allocations of the student service fee. Organizations submit a form with a specific amount of money requested, a description of what they do, what the funds will go toward and how they evaluate their program.

The committee is comprised of nine students, the Student Government Association President (who acts as chair of the committee) and at least two graduate students.

Five student members are appointed by the SGA President, three of them serving two-year terms and two of them serving one-year terms, according to the policy statement for the committee. One member must be a graduate student appointed by the Graduate Student Council.

The policy statement for the committee states the appointed students must be representative of all students enrolled at UNT. However, there are more than nine colleges at UNT.

Colin Alphonso, a case manager with the Collegiate Recovery Program at UNT, said the program, to his understanding, would be weaned off student service fee funding with 15 percent reductions every year for about the next five years.

“We don’t want to cut our services or the quality of our program because that’s just going to lead to worse outcomes,” Alphonso said. “It’s just maybe that at some point we’re just not able to keep operating. So we would just close.”

The program aims to create a collegiate atmosphere where all students in or seeking long-term recovery from substance abuse, mental health illness or other concerns can reach their maximum potential, according to its website.

“[UNT] lost at least two students to overdoses in the last year, so I know there’s a need,” Alphonso said.

The North Texas Daily is among the organizations set to be weaned off. A letter from the vice president for student affairs stated the committee would like the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences to pick up more of the Daily’s funding and explore more revenue through advertising or additional services.

The Daily received $130,888.80 this year compared to $158,720 last year.

This year, the committee also decided to cut the Daily’s funding for student wages by 14.6 percent after learning that 17 percent of funds reverted to reserves at the end of the year for the last five years have come from student wages.

Most of the Daily’s funding goes to paying staff. There are nearly 116 students on staff, but only 16 are paid. Paid staff include the editorial board, senior staff writers and senior staff photographers, videographers and illustrators.

The number of paid staffers has decreased each year along with how much they earn.

Jean Marie Brown, the director of student media at Texas Christian University, said most of their budget goes to paying student staff as well.

“If we couldn’t pay [students], some of them wouldn’t work for us,” Brown said. “It wouldn’t be that they didn’t want to, but [because] they couldn’t afford it.”

UNT alum and former Daily staffer Kayla Davis said a committee member suggested not paying staff during the Daily’s presentation for the spring semester.

“I just think the questioning we were given was a little unfair — that they would expect [not paying] working students,” Davis said.

Going forward, the Daily’s summer editions will not be possible following this year’s budget cuts.

“A lot of people don’t understand the true cost of producing news [and] some of that is the media’s fault,” Brown said. “We never charge people what it truly costs to produce a newspaper. Instead it was underwritten by advertising.”

Johnathan Krause, another case manager for the Collegiate Recovery Program, said he felt the committee members’ minds were made up before they made their presentation and that they “really didn’t care.”

The Collegiate Recovery Program’s managing and operations budget was cut by 15 percent in the last year. However, staff and student salaries, and wages and payroll related costs increased.

Although the budgets for organizations fluctuate every year, organizations are not informed why their budgets get cuts or additional funding unless they inquire.

The North Texas Daily encourages those who will be weaned off to contact us at northtexasdaily@gmail.com.

Infographic: Kelsey Shoemaker

About Author

Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel is currently the News Editor at the North Texas Daily, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to May 2018.

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