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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Administration

Revised agreement between students and administration passed


SGA President Charles Haston addresses the SGA Senate after passing the Vote of No Confidence.  |  File photo/The Cougar

SGA President Charles Haston addresses the SGA Senate after passing the Vote of No Confidence. | File photo/The Cougar

A new agreement between the administration and the student body, originally passed in February 2012, was revised and signed by President Renu Khator and Student Government Association President Charles Haston on Wednesday. Before its revision, the agreement’s “ambiguous” language has resulted in months of dissent between SGA and the Division of Administration and Finance.

The original Memorandum of Understanding, which included a referendum that approved an increase in student fees to fund the construction of TDECU Stadium and the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion, was passed with overwhelming support by the student body in 2012. But since then, Haston said the “ambiguous” language of the MOU has allowed the Division of Administration and Finance to not honor certain aspects of the agreement between the student body and the administration.

Conflicts coming from loopholes that the MOU’s “ambiguous” language allowed has caused almost year-long contention between the administration and SGA, including SGA passing vote of No Confidence in Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Carl Carlucci and two of his deputies. Haston has called Carlucci “incompetent” and is advocating for his resignation along with SGA.

Originally, the MOU made the Department of Athletics responsible for construction and subsequent management of facilities. But after the referendum passed, ownership and oversight was transferred from Athletics to Administration and Finance.

All of the portions that the Athletics was in charge of, Athletics honored, Haston said. SGA’s grievances are with the leadership of Administration and Finance.

The revised MOU, signed Wednesday by Khator and other members of the administration and Haston, clears up some of those ambiguities. Most notably, student organizations are now permitted to utilize on-campus facilities like the football stadium, Hofheinz and Cullen Performance Hall once a year with no facility rental fee or any costs associated with the rental fee. The MOU does state that “scheduling priority will be given to events associated with the annual Fronter Fiesta or Homecoming activities.”

“I think it’s important for students to know that throughout this process that was really difficult, and at times adversarial with a single division. (But) even through all that, President Khator really had her ‘students first’ mentality,” said Haston. “She always maintained (the mentality) throughout the process.”

Students will now pay any other charges “at cost,” instead of paying a heightened cost that would profit either the University or Sports and Entertainment, the hired management company that runs all on-campus events. Before the revision, students could be charged a facility fee cost that would profit Sports and Entertainment or UH, increasing the costs of utilizing on-campus buildings exorbitantly.

The referendum’s original approval of a $45 increase in Student Service Fees for 25 years still stands. This yields the University roughly $3.3 million annually for the stadium’s bond payments.

Correction: In the original article, it was stated Carl Carlucci was one of the signers for the revised MOU. Carlucci was not involved in the revision.

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