ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY JAKE BULLINGTON
A budget-heavy agenda landed on the table at last week’s Student Senate meeting, the last of the semester. Kicking off the meeting was some possible good news for P4 pharmacy students.
Student Body Treasurer J.D. Stehwien said that at the current rate that senate is dispersing funds, he predicts there will be another surplus at the conclusion of this academic year.
Because of this prediction, Stehwien says there’s no need to charge P4 students the student activity fee, which currently rests at $75.
“There’s no justification in keeping (the fee for P4 students),” Stehwien said.
Stehwien estimates this to affect about $13,000 of the total income from student activity fees each year.
In addition to the predicted surplus in funds, Stehwien says there is also no need to raise the student activity fee, something the previous session of senate had recommended. The previous session recommended the raise because of budgetary constraints for a variety of reasons including low enrollment, an increasing amount of student organizations requesting money and the establishment of the UNITY fund.
“We just think that like, given how everything’s going, there’s no need to do that right now…we just thought this would be the most fair way to represent the needs of every student at Drake,” Stehwien said.
The thought process behind this, according to Stehwien, was that P4 students are rarely involved in typical on-campus activities, instead focusing on classes and completing other off-campus pharmacy school requisites.
Following a question from Senator Joe Herba, Stehwien stated that a pharmacy student had approached senate and sought out the solution that future P4 students would become exempt from this fee.
“She was really a driving factor behind a lot of this….it’s been in conversation since the beginning of the year, probably even before that,” Stehwien said.
The motion was approved by senate. Despite its approval, it’s not guaranteed it will go into effect. The resolution is only a recommendation and will have to be approved by the university’s board of trustees. The board of trustees will meet again in the new year.
The second motion of Thursday’s meeting was allocating just over $3,000 to student organization La Fuerza Latina, which helped cover costs associated with their members attending the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Conference. The conference is being held in Chicago early next year, and 14 members of La Fuerza are planning to attend — over one-half of those attending are first-year students.
According to the motion, La Fuerza’s purpose “is to stand in solidarity with the Latino community of both Drake and Des Moines.” The organization hopes that attending this conference will further that purpose.
The cost of attending is split between around $3,000 from the UNITY Fund and $3,010 from Student Senate’s funds, which are gathered from the activity fee.
The senators had limited questions to Senator Kenia Calderon, who spoke on behalf of La Fuerza as a leading member. Stehwien provided context for the large funding request.
“I would like to reiterate the fact that the UNITY fund has $10,000 to spend and they used $3,000 from there and are asking some from us, so I know that’s one of our larger expenses, but some perspective, I guess,” Stehwien said.
UNITY is a governing body, made up of several multicultural organizations, including La Fuerza.
Senator Anna Gleason spoke in support of the motion.
“Especially taking into consideration past funding motions that with similar efforts like conferences and such, this seems like a reasonable sum of money, especially giving that they have outreached to other funding opportunities which I appreciate,” Gleason said. “I also have no doubt in my mind that La Fuerza is going to take this conference and run with it. They’re going to bring so many things back to campus, they already do a lot on this campus for many different students. So, I have no question that there will be long-term benefits for attending this conference.”
Gleason then called for a vote. All present senators, minus Calderon, who abstained, voted to approve the funding motion, allocating over $3,000 to La Fuerza Latina.
Senate will hold its next public meeting next semester.