Administration News

Board of Regents vote to delay SFAC budget recommendation

Student Protesters at the Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

On Wednesday, after a lengthy discussion on the budget proposals made by the Student Fees Advisory Committee, the UH Board of Regents tabled the issue despite SFAC chair and mechanical engineering sophomore Yusuf Kadi’s plea to the board to not postpone the decision. 

President and Chancellor Renu Khator rejected budget recommendations made by SFAC that would have cut $1.5 million from UH Athletics and diverted the funds to other student organizations. 

To protest Khator’s rejection of the proposal, students picketed for hours prior to the meeting and also showed up to voice their concerns during the public forum part of the meeting. Ten student leaders were each given three minutes to present their case.

Protesters were present at the meeting with signs that read: “Students over profit,” “Whose fees? Our Fees. Whose needs? Our Needs,” “UH Greed has to go,” among others. Students’ leaders demanded that the student fees be used to advance academic success and provide mental health resources to students.

Co-president of the Houston chapter of Deeds Not Words Landon Richie spoke before the board and said that student mental health should be a priority. 

“Bolstering these essential services through funding cannot and should not be a one-off only by the tragic loss of life. But with the rejection of a recommendation on exactly how to honor the commitment to do better,” Richie said. “It appears that support for student wellness is conditional and limited.”

When a visit to Counseling and Psychological Services can be between life and death, they should be funded adequately, he said.

The postponed vote on the SFAC proposal came almost a year after two students committed suicide on campus, which sparked debate over the state of mental health on campus. Khator pledged to increase student outposts for mental health services and created CoogsCare in response to it.

During the meeting, students questioned Khator about caring for students and making them a priority when her actions have shown otherwise.

Ashley Lubben, an SGA Honors College senator and a part of the CAPS advisory committee, said that while there are many gaps to be filled to address the mental health crisis properly, SFAC’s original recommendation provides a direct path for students to allocate needed resources toward mental health.

“Renu Khator, you issued a statement saying, ‘Students are our first priority.’ Right now, we, as students, are telling you that statement is not being honored. SFAC is recommending an avenue to show your students just how much of a priority they are,” Lubben said. “If you claim that Coogs care, it is time to put your money where your mouth is.”

Student complaints aside, UH Chairman Tilman Fertitta made it clear that athletics will receive its funding. In an exchange with Kadi, Fertitta agreed that, despite of SFAC’s objections, Athletics would receive the funding it needs regardless of if it came out of student fees, CAPS or another campus resource.

After consulting with UH General Counsel Dona Cornell, Fertitta moved to table the motion and said he would form  a four-person committee consisting of Kadi, Vice President of Student Affairs Paul Kittle, Administration and Finance Vice Chancellor Raymond Bartlett and General Counsel Dona Cornell to meet and come up with a solution.

Kadi said that he hopes that the board members will come to the table and be ready to tackle the problem as delaying will not solve anything.

“I don’t table things unless we are going to come back with a solution,” Fertitta said.

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1 Comment

  • Continue fighting for your fees to be spent where they will do the most good for the ENTIRE student body. Not a select group.

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