North Texas Daily

Innovation fee goes to student vote

Innovation fee goes to student vote

Innovation fee goes to student vote
September 16
00:02 2014

Joshua Knopp/News Editor

Over the summer, the Student Government Association passed two referendums that require student votes to go into effect.

One referendum is the innovation fee, first discussed in the spring. If passed, it would add a $5 charge to tuition per student per semester. This money, an estimated $400,000 per year, would be put into a pool for teachers to use for things in the classroom that are prohibitively expensive now.

Students can vote on the referendum Sept. 22-24 online at the SGA OrgSync website.

The referendum was the brainchild of Adam Hasley, now the advocate general for SGA. He said he was trying to solve the problem of boring, teach-to-the-test classes that don’t really teach anything. Hasley said he wanted to do this by empowering teachers.

“No teacher just wakes up and says, ‘I really don’t want to try and reach my students today. I want them to be bored,’” Hasley said. “Teachers are constantly looking at different things they could do, but because we have a limited amount of funding, we can’t always support their ideas. You can’t always justify investing in experimental methods that haven’t been proven in research.”

One of the referendum’s criticisms is that no one knows exactly how the money will be spent. The writing outlines that the grants associated with the fee will be administered by a seven-person committee made up of two graduate students, two undergraduate students, two faculty and one staff member, so students will always have ultimate control.  But potential candidates to sit on the committee have not yet been researched.

As far as ideas they would be weighing, there’s nothing formally submitted there either. However, Hasley said some ideas he’s heard talking with teachers include purchasing materials so students can build or draw with guest speakers in engineering and art classes, as well as buying more equipment for the art school.

Provost and vice president of academic affairs Warren Burggren, who had previously said the referendum may be made redundant by money committed to classroom improvements and the technology fee, described himself as uncertain toward the referendum. Burggren said the university is in the process of consolidating all student fees for greater transparency, and this runs counter to that goal, but they could always fold it in to the consolidated fee.

“We’d love to have the extra money,” he said. “At the same time, we’re trying to reduce the number of individual fees.”

Many teachers had not heard of the referendum and did not have ideas of how to spend it off the top of their heads, but they said they would probably find uses for it. Associate geography professor Kent McGregor said a limited budget is a fact of life for most teachers.

“I’ve been operating on a shoestring budget for so long, I’ve actually gotten good at it,” he said.

Featured Image: SGA Advocate General Adam Hasley speaks during a meeting on Wednesday. Hasley’s referendum for an innovation and blended learning fee goes to a vote Sept 22. Photo by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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