Graduate Student Senate discusses budgets of BGSU, GSS

Brionna Scebbi and Brionna Scebbi

Academic fees are an issue of concern for BGSU graduate students, especially fees for services they don’t use much, if at all.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Sheri Stoll spoke on the topic of BGSU finances and addressed questions about academic fees and tuition breakdown at the Graduate Student Senate general assembly Friday.

Communication Sciences and Disorders Doctoral Senator Zoe Kriegel said fees are not covered by tuition scholarships or stipends, “so these are really at the forefront of mind and those of my constituents.”

The percent of the university’s budget going toward student aid and scholarships has decreased from 15.3% to 14.1% over the past five years.

Kriegel asked Stoll what options there are for raising revenue without charging graduate students fees for services they don’t use much, if at all.

Stoll said BGSU has been discussing “hiring collectively a firm that has a lot of success nationally with lobbying state legislatures” with other members of the Inter-University Council of Ohio to raise awareness for the impact the state’s decision to “continue to not fund public higher ed in Ohio.”

While Ohio has one of the lowest tuition increases in the U.S., it has some of the lowest support from state funding, Stoll said.

The solution she offered to Kriegel’s question was for the senators and their constituents to make a change using their vote.

“If you have residency in the state of Ohio, I would expect each and every one of you will be registered, and I expect each and every one of you will be voting,” she said. “So when you hear people say, ‘I’m just one person and one vote,’ that’s true, but every single vote does matter.”

Ohio has a freeze on in-state tuition, but Stoll said the state is recommending universities raise fees to cover increasing costs since they can’t raise tuition. While votes might change the way public higher education is funded in Ohio, BGSU students still have to pay fees until those changes are made.

Stoll also spoke about what the “general fee” entails.

“It is defined in the Ohio revised code as a fee, a uniform fee, so it’s assessed to all students in the same amount, and it’s intended to support non-academic student support services,” she said. “For most schools, it’s athletics, it’s your rec center, probably a student union, things of that nature.”

The general fee for BGSU is a maximum of $747 a semester for undergraduates and $780 a semester for graduates for the 2018-19 year. It allows students to attend most campus and athletic activities for free or a reduced rate.

“These fees also support the Bowen‐Thompson Student Union, intramural sports, and other student services, activities and related capital projects,” according to the BGSU website.

GSS also presented its budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The proposed budget focuses on promotional development opportunities.

The senators also voted to approve a statement of concern regarding proposed Title IX changes. The statement of concern is similar to that recently passed by the Undergraduate Student Government. GSS President Daniel Ricken said the goal is for all seven governmental bodies on campus to back the statement.

A list of the top issues and concerns for graduate students, which includes academic fees, was tabled for discussion at the next general assembly.