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Student Legal Services to increase fee

University Student Legal Services [SLS] is adding two dollars per semester to its participation fee, the first time the fee has been increased in ten years.

According to SLS Managing Attorney Rodney Fleming the increase in the fee, which is now nine dollars, is the result of a recently developing trend of SLS expenses outweighing its income.

Fleming said the alternative would have been cutting staff or reducing the scope of the services SLS provides.

“We needed to maintain the level of service that we provide,” he said. “We needed an increase in our income.”

Student Legal Services is funded entirely by the participation fee, and receives no money from the administration itself.

In a presentation to Undergraduate Student Government [USG] last year, Fleming said SLS is aiming to keep the fee at nine dollars for at least the next five years.

“Last fee increase we said the same thing, but in fact it lasted ten years,” he said. “So we think we’ve been really fiscally responsible.”

Fleming cited the introduction of the green fund as a factor that contributed to the decreased income for SLS.

“What we noticed was when they introduced a new waivable fee, it negatively impacted us,” he said.

Since the green fund, the income for SLS has decreased by about $50,000 per year. SLS currently spends slightly less per year than it did a decade ago.

Resolutions supporting the increase in the fee were passed last semester by both USG and Graduate Student Senate.

USG President Brian Kochheiser, who at the time of the resolution was Chief of Staff, said the decision was in the interest of keeping service at the level it had been.

“We didn’t want to compromise services for students,” Kochheiser said. “If the fee had stayed the same going into this year, we would have probably had to lose some of the [services] SLS has to offer.”

The University allows students to pay an optional fee each semester allowing them to utilize the service. Only those students who paid the fee can use the SLS.

Located at the Wooster Center, SLS provides legal representation to students for a variety of situations.

This includes certain criminal cases, traffic violations, lease contracts, off-campus roommate agreements and others.

Last year, 1,655 students made use of Student Legal Services, which 1,365 actual court appearances made by SLS. The average number of students SLS has served since the 2008-2009 school year is 1,578.

“People think they won’t need it, but there’s a certain population,” Fleming said.

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