Administration Campus News

Student organizations to orchestrate protest in response to Khator’s rejection to SFAC recommendations

People protesting

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Student leaders and organizations are coordinating a protest Wednesday against President Renu Khator’s rejection of the Student Fees Advisory Committee’s budget recommendations.

The protest will take place before the Board of Regents meeting at the UH Hilton hotel. Supporters demand that the Board comply with the recommendations made by the committee to fund student services by reducing student fee support to the UH Athletics program.

Student organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Young Democratic Socialists of America, Deeds Not Words and prominent members of SFAC are among the groups mobilizing the protest.

“I just feel the president not agreeing with the student-led committee’s recommendations is a slap in the face to the student body,” said SFAC member and one of the protest’s organizers Jesus Nieto.

Many student organizations advocating for SFAC emphasize the unilateral nature of Khator’s rejection. Harrison Martin, another organizer and leader of Young Democratic Socialists of America at UH, claimed Khator’s rejection bypasses the ability of students to control where student fees are being spent.

“Students should be able to control where their fees go,” Martin said. “The fact that the president can take something decided by the students and deny it without any process to check them sets a bad precedent.”

SFAC claims that news of Khator’s rejection and the administration’s plans for student fees was not transparent with the committee, leading them to question whether the University is considering their recommendations.

“Why are they not communicating with the student body? Why are they not communicating with SFAC members? They are the ones that are given the right to oversee this entire process,” Nieto said. “They are trying to sweep things under the rug 24 hours before the meeting.”

The protest-planning process began immediately after the committee received notice of Khator rejecting their report, according to co-president of the Houston chapter of Deeds Not Words, Landon Richie. Richie and other members of Deeds Not Words are prominent in protests at UH and suggest that supporting SFAC’s decisions will benefit students. 

“SFAC is meant to be a voice for students and help them become successful, healthy and productive,” Richie said. “It is irresponsible for the University to sideline these.”

According to a presentation posted to the Board of Regents agenda page, the Board will also vote on proposals to increase housing and parking rates among the fate of the SFAC recommendations. The administration’s alternative recommendations regarding student fees were released the day before the Board of Regents meeting, causing frustration among SFAC members and leaving students unaware of what Khator will consider during the meeting.

“There are things still up in the air; Is Renu going to suggest raising the student service fee? Is she going to suggest running on a deficit?” said SFAC chair Yusuf Kadi. “I’m not super happy about both of those possibilities.”

Other groups that will attend the protest include Students for a Democratic Society, Payment for Placements and the Student Government Association.

Nieto feels the University is focusing more on staples that have helped Khator gain success over her tenure as President and Chancellor at UH, meanwhile, neglecting other major issues that affect the student body.

“I just don’t see why UH wants to put university ranking and Athletics first when serious problems are happening on this campus,” Nieto said. “ Students are not feeling supported.”

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