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University increases student involvement in the general fee allocation

ATHENS, Ohio (Nov. 21, 2006) -- Ohio University will implement a new budgeting process that will allow students to have significant input into the review and allocation of their general fee. The proposed change is a result of Student Senate expressing its desire to have more input in how the university allocates these funds each year, and the university's desire to target these funds to activities that provide the greatest benefits to students. 

The new policy calls for the establishment of a new Student General Fee Advisory Committee, a process that recommends how increases or decreases in general fee revenue should be allocated, and a framework for open communication between students and the university's administration.

Ohio state law mandates that all higher education students must be charged a general fee to fund non-instructional student services that promote the students' emotional and physical well-being and cultural and social development.

"I'm excited about the fact that the university administration and student government leaders have agreed to work together. It will improve the relationship between the two and make this an even greater university," said Vice President for Student Affairs Kent J. Smith.

The key component in the proposed policy is the creation of the SGFAC whose mission is to formalize student involvement in the general fee recommendation process.

This will be accomplished by partnering with the Budget Planning Council on the review and funding recommendation process regarding the general fee, providing budget information regarding the use of the general fee, and increasing campus awareness about the use of the general fee.

The SGFAC will have nine members. Members from Student Senate are the treasurer, SAC commissioner, budget committee chair and a student senator appointed by the Student Senate president. Other members include a graduate student appointed by the Graduate Student Senate president, three non-Student Senate undergraduate students and a university employee preferably who is taking classes and paying a general fee.

The appointment of the three non-Student Senate students and the university employee will be conducted by the president and overseen by the university's Committee on Committees. Each member of the SGFAC has a one-year term that expires the final week of spring quarter each year. The vice president for student affairs will serve as the adviser of the SGFAC but has no voting power.

After receiving guidance from the BPC, the SGFAC will review program proposals and make a formal recommendation for allocation of any increased general fee revenues to the vice president of student affairs. Both will either endorse or recommend changes to the document before it is taken to the BPC for endorsement or changes. A critical component of the process is the requirement that each reviewing group communicate any changes from the committee's original recommendations to the committee. Any differences from the original committee report will be documented as the proposals move through the process. The proposal then goes to the president, who will then make his final recommendations to the Board of Trustees after consideration of the SGFAC proposal if amended.

Students will also be given the opportunity to make one-time funding allocations for various student organizations and student activities if general fee revenues exceed estimates in the previous year, and there is a sufficient reserve to protect against revenues falling short of estimates in future years.

Since this is the first year for a policy regarding the use of the general fee, the SGFAC will draft a report during spring quarter that identifies areas in need of change and improvement. The vice president for finance and administration, the vice president for student affairs and the Student Senate president will review it and collaborate with the SGFAC to make the necessary changes to make it a better process.

Another key ingredient in the process is the joint responsibility of the SGFAC and BPC to communicate in detail the university's allocation of the general fee. They plan to establish a Web site that will have a link off the Ohio University student Web page located at www.ohiou.edu/students and a link from the faculty/staff Web page located at www.ohiou.edu/employees.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy at 740-597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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