The Utah State University Fee Board (USFB) voted in its final meeting Wednesday to approve an amended library fee and to send the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) fee to a student body vote in the spring, while also rejecting the Health and Wellness and athletics fee in their entirety.
Wednesday’s meeting began with a final discussion and subsequent vote on the Health and Wellness center fee. Now three weeks past the initial fee board meeting that featured the center’s fee increase pitch, many on the USFB were concerned about the center’s plan for the fee, arguing that the bulk of questions they found themselves still asking about the proposed $2.25 increase were worrisome moving forward.
USU’s graduate studies senator Ty Aller said he was “hesitant” about the fee because the board, at meeting time, wasn’t able to definitely say how the money would be used.
Aller was not alone in his thinking.
USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHaSS) senator Jacie Rex said she didn’t “understand exactly where the money [was] going,” and that rejecting the fee because of uncertainty wouldn’t “get rid of the Health and Wellness Center.”
Those in favor of the fee argued rejecting the center’s proposal would result in the center losing staff and increasing wait times for student patients.
In particular, USU’s athletics and campus recreation vice president Blake Lyman used what he called a medical analogy to explain why, in light of the threat of staff cuts, he was in favor of the fee increase. Lyman said he’d rather have “our Health and Wellness Center be a full, strong body and not an emaciated skeleton.”
The USFB vote was extremely close. The $2.25 fee was rejected with a simple majority of 12 votes to 11.
Following the vote on the Health and Wellness Center fee, the board took to discussing the proposed $6 library fee increase.
The board amended the fee at the beginning of the discussion, decreasing it from $6 to $5. In contrast to the Health and Wellness Center fee proposal, the library fee faced less scrutiny and was approved by a vote of 18 to four.
To finish the second half of the night, the board first discussed the proposed athletics fee, which was amended twice before eventually being rejected by a final vote of 13 to nine.
Aller was the first to suggest amending the fee, knocking the increase down considerably from $7 to $2. In making the amendment, Aller said he “believed in the direction [John Hartwell, USU’s athletics director] was taking the program,” and added that a $2 increase wouldn’t put “too much strain on students.”
Lyman supported Aller’s amendment, stating the fee increase would go directly toward students as an investment “in our best thing,” which he said is the university’s student section.
Ultimately, the amended $2 fee increase was rejected by the board with a vote of 13 to 9. Lyman followed the rejection vote with another amendment, lowering the request to $1.08. The amount, he said, would be enough for the athletics department to license the FanMaker system, a sports-centered program that works a lot like the app Pocket Points.
The amendment, however, was rejected by the board with a vote of 12 to 10.
The final round of voting, which was to decide whether to allow the proposed CAPS fee to be presented to the USU student body as a referendum in the spring elections, ended with a unanimous vote in favor of the fee.
Notably, the board heard proposals from five organizations in the preceding meetings, but only voted on four of the fee proposals on Wednesday. The board was scheduled to vote on the proposed Aggie Shuttle fee increase but it was withdrawn by Parking and Transportation services.
Now that the USFB meetings are at a close, the library fee proposal and CAPS fee creation will move on. Specifically, the library fee increase will be reviewed by the university president, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents in ascending order. The CAPS fee creation will be made into a referendum that will be approved or rejected by a student body vote.
Photo by Sydney Oliver