Fine arts fee advances

After a proposal to raise student fees by $5 next year got a cold reception in the student Assembly last Tuesday, student leaders are pushing a smaller, $1.50 fee.

The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to deny a resolution supporting the fee increase for fine arts programs because representatives said the increase was too large. Senators in the Associated Students of the University of Utah narrowly supported the measure the week before.

Students weren’t too sure about the increase, either. Of the nearly 8,000 students who voted in a recent survey, a slim majority favored the increase-just less than 51 percent.

Student Body President Jake Kirkham now plans to advocate the Utah Board of Regents for a $1.50 increase to benefit student fine arts programs on campus.

Kirkham said he is advocating for a smaller fee despite mixed support because he thinks students would have favored it if he had proposed less of an increase.

“I don’t think the majority of students were ready to make (the $5) jump,” Kirkham said.

Several Representatives said during Tuesday’s meeting that they would have supported the resolution if it called for a smaller fee climb.

The Board of Regents will vote on the fee change along with the U’s proposed second-tier tuition increase at its meeting next week.

Students would have been given free admission to all productions in the College of Fine Arts under the $5 jump in fees, but not under the current proposed increase.

Advocates of the fee increase said a thriving arts program is essential for any university.

“I believe (that) fine arts in the whole country are in a critical state,” said Sen. Kacee Kniazeva of the College of Humanities.

Other student legislators didn’t like the idea of making their constituents pay any more fees.

“I don’t want to place that burden on students at this time,” said Rep. Tucker Morgan, who represents students with undeclared majors.

Kirkham said he still plans to advocate for ASUU support for a separate $3 fee increase to fund study abroad programs at the Senate and General Assembly next month.

If the study abroad fee gets approval from the Senate and Assembly, it will not go into effect until fall of 2008, because any student fee increase must be submitted to the Board of Regents along with second-tier tuition.

Kirkham said he will not push the study abroad fee unless he gets the Senate and Assembly to vote in favor of a resolution supporting the increase.