The Arizona Desert Lamp

Den of Thieves: the SSF Board Review

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 14 April 2009

SSF MachineThis site has said it before and it will say it again: the Student Services Fee, when put to a plebiscite, was roundly defeated. Figures with authority subverted this expression of student will, and used a non-binding and biased survey to falsely demonstrate that the fee had broad student support. Since that time, the fee has been further manipulated by administrative forces; instead of coming directly back to the students for whom the fee supposedly exists, the funds are instead being used as a stop-gap measure for various administrative posts, supplying departments with new full-time employees that they couldn’t find the money for elsewhere.

Don’t look to your ‘student leaders’ – whether on the SSF Board or in the galleys seeking handouts – for resistance. This group, mostly appointees, chose not to subsidize your sudoku, but instead to subsidize the quasi-legal Code of Conduct disciplinary system that has ratcheted up its non-violent citation tally; and to subsidize an alcohol “awareness program” that was described as a ‘continuing E-CHUG.’ No funds were left unturned. Somehow, it seems that this is not exactly what students were getting at in their survey responses.

The meeting resembled nothing more than a House of Representatives hearing on an obscure appropriations bill. Lobbyists enter, interest groups leave, and the public scratches its head as bureaucratic legerdemain grants money left and right. That is, if there were a public paying attention. Unfortunately, no non-rent-seeking students were present – and how could we expect them to be? The details of the event were not released until a few days ago; and while the Wildcat alluded to the event in its “3 Things to Know” sidebar, it provided no details about when or where the event would actually take place. Transparency, this ain’t.

Yet somehow, Arizona Media managed to find a way over, and were first in line for a piece of the pie. Sen. Fritze asked whether this would affect the Wildcat’s status as the “independent” voice on campus. Mark Woodhams, head of Arizona Student Media, said that it didn’t, as the paper isn’t legally independent anyways. This is true:

AZ Student Media is a university (Student Affairs) auxiliary operating largely on revenues from the sale of advertising, sponsorships and underwriting

Sen. Fritze, perhaps in an attempt to stave of charges of hypocrisy when it came to the Collegiate Readership Program, said that she supported the proposal on the basis of its ability to increase student employment. A formal amendment was made to limit the commitment from three years to one year, and shortly thereafter the “independent” Wildcat was walking off with $55,000 from the Student Services Fee.

Yet the Board was not similarly inclined when the Collegiate Readership Program came to the floor. While the ASUA crew stuck together, the rest of Board largely opposed the plan, citing either the “expense” of the proposal (a concern which proved to be beside the point most of the time) or the poor quality of the papers, as well as philosophizing vacuously about the future of print media (never mind having just paid $55,000 to a print paper). In the end, the proposal was unanimously voted down; Sen. Fritze, citing a personal interest, abstained.

The Womens’ Resource Center received its long sought-after director, for a grand total of $65,000 (plus $300 for the lovely SSF signage). ASUA received $100,000 for club funding, even as Chairman Matthew Totlis openly wondered about the wisdom of allocating money to a money allocating Board (from one set of Inquisitors to another, steady as she goes. . .). Welfare Wednesday remains the top pig of the sty, although it did receive a minor dressing-down from a few Board members who wondered when the madness might end. Broadly, the Board changed most three-year requests to one-year promises of funding – meaning that we can expect many, many more items to come before the board next year.

Some indubitably bowdlerized accounting follows below. If any one from the Board has a semi-official list of numbers, we would appreciate any corrections that you might offer:

SSF BOARD MEMBERS:

Matthew Totlis (chair)

Emily Fritze (vice-chair)

Roeland Hancock

Kenny Ho

Helena Morrison

Sandra Nemeth

Kayla Patrick

Norianne Pimentel

Nicole Riesgo

Tiffany Tedesco

Sanket Unhale

BOARD ITEMS

SSF 10.002 – Penny for a Paper – $55,000

SSF 10.003 – ASUA Club Funding – $100,000

SSF 10.004 – ASUA Green Fund – $50,000

SSF 10.005 – Collegiate Readership Program – $0

SSF 10.006 – Women’s Resource Center – $65,300

SSF 10.007 – Campus Recreation – $135,000

SSF 10.008 – Career Services Ambassadors – $43,100

SSF 10.009 – CSIL “Films Make a Difference” – $3,420

SSF 10.010 – CSIL “Friday Night Live” – $25,600

SSF 10.011 – CSIL Art Gallery – $0

SSF 10.012 – CSIL “Hump-Day Matinee” – $0

SSF 10.013 – CSIL “Heritage Months and Weeks” – $0

SSF 10.014 – CSIL “TIPS” Alcohol Awareness – $26,085

SSF 10.015 – Dean of Students “Ethics and Integrity” – $16,900

SSF 10.016 – DOS “Student Advocacy” – $45,000

SSF 10.017 – GPSC Travel Stipends – $85,000

SSF 10.018 – Health Clinician for CAPS – $71,235

SSF 10.019 – Health Educator – $0

SSF 10.020 – OFSA TEACH Grant Advisor – $0

SSF 10.021 – OFSA Scholarship for You – $75,985

SSF 10.022 – OFSA CRISIS Counselor – $0

SSF 10.023 – DRC Staff & Office Costs – $51,800

SSF 10.024 – SLC SALT Staff Increases – $92,000

SSF 10.025 – SLC Math and Science Tutoring Resource (MASTR) – $97,000

SSF 10.026 – SLC Supplemental Instruction – $67,700

SSF 10.027 – SU Mac Lab – $0

SSF 10.028 – SU Welfare Wednesday – $32o,000

SSF 10.029 – SU Sustainability Initiatives – $32,300

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7 Responses

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  1. mark woodhams said, on 14 April 2009 at 9:17 am

    Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s important to note — with regard to this whole issue of “independence” — that the Wildcat fee was requested as a “subscription subsidy”. Hence, a penny a paper. The Readership program — and too bad about that (seriously) — is pretty much the same thing, a subscription. In any event, there is no precedent that the Wildcat’s journalistic independence will be compromised because of this fee. Many, if not most, major college dailies receive a fee (or subscription subsidy), in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. There are even college dailies organized as 501c3 non-profit corporations — legally independent from the university — that receive student fees. A sampling of some of the larger college dailies in the country shows that, on average, 15% of their annual revenue comes from a subsidy. The Wildcat’s amount comes to about 4%. Whether you get a fee or not, the constitution still protects free expression, and the state is not sovereign of all that it owns.

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