Student Budget committee concerned

The Student Budget Committee (SBC) expressed concerns about Emerson Hall, campus apartments and Seattle Pacific’s debt in a letter sent to President Phil Eaton on Jan. 28.

Vice President of Finance Richard Moore heads up the SBC. Moore explained that SBC is a confidential committee made up of students and faculty members. The members are required to keep SBC matters within the committee until after their letter is printed.

This year, the committee members are Moore, ASSP President Bri Clark, Executive Vice President James Pedrick, Intercultural Senator CJ Park, Campus Housing and Apartments Senator Brandon Prior, senior Emily Teel, ASSP Advisor and Director of Student Programs Scott Strawn and Dean of Students Kathleen Braden.

Every year the SBC meets with the Vice President of Business and Planning Don Mortesen and his assistant to discuss budget issues and possible tuition increases. They meet a total of four times each year.

At the end of each of the four meetings, the group discusses the issues and generates a letter that is then sent to President Eaton and all of the administration. The letter was presented at Student Senate on Monday night.

"We took a different approach this year," Moore said. "Instead of addressing why we think tuition increases are bad, we tried to talk specifically about issues that we didn’t agree with."

Specifically, three issues were addressed in the letter to Eaton: Emerson Hall, campus apartments and SPU’s debt.

In the letter, the SBC expressed their concern with the unequal increase in the cost of Emerson Hall in relation to other on-campus housing.

According to the letter, the SBC is worried that this increase will cause important intercultural initiatives to be ignored, as Emerson is home to the MOSAIC floor.

"Increasing the cost spread is likely to promote students to choose another residence hall instead of living in Emerson and participating in these initiatives," the letter stated.

The SBC is also concerned that incoming freshman will be impacted. According to the letter some students are placed in the hall without having chosen to live there. This means that they will be paying more than students placed in other residence halls.

Lastly, the letter said that the price increase will promote more exclusivity for Emerson hall, and further promote its negative "wealthy" image.

The letter also asked for the situation of on-campus apartments to be re-evaluated.

Members of the SBC said that students know that the costs for living on-campus are higher than what is charged for apartments in Queen Anne and Magnolia. Because of this, the letter said, many students are choosing to live off-campus.

They also expressed concern about a decrease in maintenance to on-campus apartments. According to the letter, Mortesen said that some of the problems can be attributed to a budget cut for Plant Services.

The letter said that students are complaining about waiting a long time for services to be done, and even for services to occur at all.

In the letter, it is mentioned that currently 40.5 percent of SPU undergraduate students live off-campus.

"SBC warns that any further increases in the costs of on-campus apartments under any pricing structure will be followed by a further growing commuter population," the letter said.

Lastly the letter talked about SPU’s debt.

According to the letter, nine percent of our budget every year goes towards financing bonds and debts that were used in construction of new facilities. The letter asked that in the future, a higher percent of our tuition be spent on funding educational programs and efforts.

Although Moore wishes that the SBC was not a confidential group, he thinks that it has had a good effect.

"I was surprised at how many people got back to us," Moore said. "People had a lot to say about Emerson."

Moore thinks that the best way for SPU students to be heard is for them to talk to their senators.

"Anyone can come to senate anytime and say what’s on their mind," Moore said. "It is my hope that students will utilize the channels that are in place right now — their senators, officers and ASSP."

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Title: Student Budget committee concerned | Author: Fiona Sortor | Section: News | Published Date: 2004-02-25 | Internal ID: 3805