Feb 072011
Authors: Eric Berlinberg

When I was a freshman on campus, I didn’t have a clue as to what went into the nearly $900 million
operation at CSU. I would hang out in my dorm room, play Frisbee on the intramural fields, go to class, eat greasy pizza for dinner, attend an event in the Lory Student Center, maybe do some homework, sleep and repeat.

Does any incoming student to CSU think of what actually goes into running the land-grant institution that we call home?

With around 6,000 employees and nearly 30,000 students, CSU’s budget is a conglomeration of tuition, student fees, development funding and research grants. With ever-declining state spending, the university budget requires quite the planning and budgeting process. Our administrators on campus, both university and student government officials, tirelessly give their time and human capital to ensure we plan for the worst possible scenario of funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

What actually goes into this process?

Think of the university’s budgeting process as two separate groups working to achieve a similar goal. Administration looks into the future of what student enrollment and higher-ed funding from the state might be. This funding is called the Education and General Budget, and President Tony Frank can explain this better.

The other big part of the budgeting process –– student fees –– begins with students and ends with the Board of Governors of CSU. Student fees are currently $864.40 per semester. They are either entirely funds or supplements of 15 different departments on campus that provide services and programs, including the recreation center, student government, LSC, facilities, technology services in classrooms, athletics and more.

This $31 million budgeting progression, the Student Fee Review Board, is done on a yearly basis in a nine-month process. SFRB is a board of students, chaired by the Associated Students of CSU Vice President, who hear budget presentations from directors of each fee area, ask questions and either re-approve, increase or decrease funding for an area.

After hearing budget presentations, SFRB makes their recommendations for the following year’s student fees to the ASCSU Senate. Senate then changes and approves the recommendations, which then move to the CSU System Board of Governors.

Our student fee process is one to be proud of, as students directly influence their own fees.

How does this seemingly long, drawn out process affect you as an individual student only focused on having a good time and achieving a diploma? Quite a bit.

This single board of individuals has the largest influence in what ends up being taken out of your personal pocketbook. How they solicit input from their constituents is vital to the effective representation of all 30,000 of you.

This year, SFRB has taken a strong stance against student fee increases. With the inevitable increase in tuition for 2012, in the best interest of all students, we will not be raising student fees. There are, however, a few very important decisions SFRB has to make in the coming weeks.

One of these is the LSC renovation proposal. SFRB has to approve the fee increase that will ultimately be assessed to students once the LSC renovation is complete. This decision is completely being handed to the student body through the LSC Governing Board and ultimately SFRB. While this fee will not be assessed until the renovations are complete, it will still affect the younger Rams who follow in our footsteps.

The other big decision this academic year is for an added fee that would go towards increased education and resources in response to the high rates of assault, stalking and other forms of abuse that happen on our campus.

Each of these decisions directly affects individuals on campus; it is important to get involved.

So next time you use a resource on campus, think about where the funding comes from and how it’s implemented. Chances are you won’t look at campus the same.

Eric Berlinberg is the Deputy Chief of Staff for ASCSU and serves on the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation Board of Directors.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm

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