Fiala

David Fiala, president of the University Graduate Student Association, helped lead the town hall meeting to discuss student fee increases on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: NC State Student Media is requesting an increase for the 2015-2016 school year. The Technician is a member of Student Media.

Correction: It was originally stated Student Legal Services was requesting a fee increase to hire another lawyer for its office.  The fee increase it received last year is enabled the office to hire another lawyer last year.  The fee increase for the upcoming year will enable the office to help keep that position.

About 16 students met to voice their opinions about proposed student fee increases for the 2015-2016 school year at a public hearing open for all students in the Talley Governance Chamber on Thursday.

The students in attendance discussed the breakdown of student fees as well as the areas in which they would like to cut funding.

“Our common goal out of [this meeting] is to get student input,” said Arianna Nasser, the Chair of the Tuition and Fees Committee of the NC State Student Senate and senior in biomedical engineering. 

Student Government will use the concerns voiced at the meeting to guide how it votes on the proposed student fee increases. Student Senate will vote on its recommendations Wednesday. Those recommendations will be considered by the NC State Tuition Review Advisory Committee when it votes a few days after the Student Senate’s meeting. After the commitee votes to approve the increases, they will go through a few more levels of approval before they ultimatly have to be approved by the UNC-System’s Board of Governors. 

The current proposed student fee increase stands at 4.77 percent, but it needs to be lowered to around 3 percent, Nasser said. 

Many university departments that receive money from student fees each year have asked for an increases for the upcoming year to fund additional projects, positions and operating requirements.  

However, some of these requests for increased funds are to solely cover the cost of living increase from year to year.

“Some of [the fee increases] are just to cover inflation,” said Nasser.

Some departments are requesting increases to cover mandatory salary increases.

Student Health Services requested the highest budget increase, mostly to cover the cost of new counselors for the Counseling Center.  

In addition to the new counselors, Student Health would also like to open a facility on Centennial Campus that will add counselors and include dental services that would be open to the public.

A part of the revenue generated from these dental services would go back to the university, helping negate the funding cost.

University Recreation requested an increase in part to get a new athletic trainer to serve students.

Some students present at the hearing were apprehensive about this request, however. 

Student Legal Services requested an increase to maintain the salary for the lawyer it hired last year to aid students at the university.

David Fiala, president of the University Graduate Students Association and a graduate student in computer science, said the highest paid lawyer at NC State gets paid less than the lowest paid lawyer at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Without an increase in funds, Student Legal Services would have to consider cutting back on the number of cases that they pursue.  

With so many increases in funding being requested, it will be difficult to choose what department gets more funding than others, but that’s where students come in, Fiala said.

“[Student fees] are very all encompassing and very important to our day-to-day lives,” Fiala said.

And students are able to suggest where their student fees are going.

“[The students] really set the tone at the very beginning of the process,” said Fiala.

Fiala said the tone that the students set has historically always been kept throughout the whole budgeting process, ending at the UNC Board of Governors.

“Students don’t know how much of a voice they really have,” said Fiala.