Committee submits budget recommendation

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On Monday, the Committee on Student Fees and Budget Review submitted a budget recommendation letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau for the first time since its inception, with suggestions to allocate more funding toward technology and reduce funding for certain campus units.

The 12-member committee - which exists as a subcommittee of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees - began work on the seven-page recommendation letter last fall by meeting with leaders of campus units to talk about budget needs, as well as sending out a student survey and running focus groups before pinpointing which units to focus on, according to Daniel Chun, co-chair of the committee.

The recommendation cited information technology as the most important area in need of permanent student services fee allocation, which could work to unify disparate services such as Tele-BEARS, Bear Facts and bSpace into a student portal and improve AirBears access on campus.

In addition to a focus on funding for information technology, the committee advocated for protecting the Career Center, Disabled Students Program, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, Recreational Sports and University Health Services against potential budget cuts and maintaining their levels of funding.

The recommendation classified the Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive and Cal Performances as low-priority units for campus funding, pointing out that students currently account for 16 percent of BAM/PFA's audience and only 7 percent of students attend events put on by Cal Performances. The recommendation instead suggested funding BAM/PFA through a different source, such as the Educational Fee, and reducing funding for Cal Performances.

"Cal Performances has consistently been unable to provide student-oriented programming," the recommendation stated. "The overall sentiment from the student focus groups was that the majority of the programming does not cater to the student population but rather caters to an older, wealthier demographic."

The committee will submit its recommendation to the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees in about two weeks for a discussion between the two bodies, and if there is a difference of opinion the advisory committee may choose to submit a separate recommendation, according to Roohi Ebrahim, co-chair of the Committee on Student Fees.

The committees have been criticized because of noncompliance with the nonbinding Guidelines for Implementing the UC Student Fee Policy, revised by the UC Board of Regents in May to state that each campus's chancellor will consider recommendations from a student fee advisory committee on fee revenues usage to fund non-academic units.

The committee has focused in the past on submitting reports on individual units of the campus that are funded by student fees to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer with suggestions rather than providing overall recommendations on how to allocate the semesterly $450 student services fee, Chun said.

Though it has submitted recommendations, the committee still needs to comply with a Dec. 1 ASUC bill in which it agreed to change the ratio of graduate to undergraduate committee members to reflect their proportion in the campus student body. The committee only has one graduate student currently and efforts to hire more have not succeeded thus far, Chun said.

"We spent some time trying to recruit on Callisto, and have also reached out to the Graduate Assembly to see if they have any ideas to more effectively recruit graduate students," Chun said in an email.


Alisha Azevedo covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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