SFAC hearings to adjourn after review

The Student Fees Advisory Committee will discuss the use of tuition fees for proposals today, on the last of a 3-day meeting held in the Bluebonnet Room, University Center.

‘ SFAC is considering proposals from the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services, the Athletics Department, the Student Government Association and Student Services.

CAPS is requesting $67,612 for the addition of a full-time psychologist with expertise in military trauma.

The University of Houston lags behind other schools in the psychologist-to-student ratio, as the International Association of Counseling Services recommends one clinician per every 1,500 students. The University of Houston has a ratio of one clinician for every 3,522 students. With student enrollment forecasted to increase in the fall semester, the ratio will be further displaced.

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 will take effect August 2009. The bill will subsidize tuition, fees, books, supplies and housing for eligible veterans. A large influx of student veterans is expected for the fall semester.

‘We do not have figures at this time, but it is expected that 250,000 servicemen and women will be returning and will have the funding to attend a higher education institution,’ CAPS interim director Norma Ngo said.

Many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder would benefit from specialized counseling services, Ngo said.

The addition of a full-time specialized psychologist would also allow the program to provide outreach services to students, crisis intervention and training for University personnel on signs of suicide.

The importance of counseling services has become increasingly apparent after incidents like those in Virginia Tech, Ngo said.

The Athletics Department is seeking funds for upgrades to existing facilities such as Robertson stadium.

‘If you look at the bathrooms (in Robertson stadium) compared with others, the need for an update becomes obvious,’ Athletics director David Maggard said.

One of the most visible aspects of a university for incoming students and casual observers is the Athletics Department, Maggard said. Increased funding could bring a higher profile and increased enrollment for the University.

Increased ticket sales to sporting events would bring auxiliary income through stadium parking fees, concessions sales and sales of University apparel.

The SGA is requesting a base fund augmentation in order to continue operating at its current pace and to support its expanding scope of community events.

‘Keep in mind also that SGA donates probably about $5,000 to other events and organizations yearly. That is a part of our multidimensional approach. We aid other student organizations and departments in hopes of uniting the campus,’ SGA director of finance Amanda Wong said.

The only increases for the coming budget are non-controllable costs such as secretary salary raises, administrative charges, and paid overtime to SGA employees such as secretaries.

‘The reason for the requested increase is because since SGA has efficiently spent our allotted yearly budget, it will be difficult to reallocate our budget to cover nearly $4,000 in non-controllable increases,’ Wong said.

Elwyn Lee, vice president for Student Affairs confronted SFAC with a broad scope of affairs such as commuter services, counseling, student publications and Frontier Fiesta.

‘This year is an important year to sustain and re-invigorate Frontier Fiesta. I’m hoping to get some relief from administrative costs,’ Lee said.

With the student service fee at $185, SFAC will determine if a change is needed for the Student Affairs budget.

‘Student Affairs puts a priority on student life, and creates conditions to make students successful,’ said Lee.

SFAC is meeting at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students are free to attend and ask questions on how the fees will be spent.

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