Created: 04/25/2014 6:31 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A battle is brewing at the University of New Mexico over how millions of dollars in student fee money will be spent.
During a news conference at UNM Friday morning students expressed frustration over a recent decision by university president Robert Frank, which removes the Athletics Department and University Libraries from the Student Fee Review Board’s recommendation process. That means the board will no longer be able to make recommendations about how student’s fee money will be spent on the two entities.
“My biggest concern is that President Frank is pretty much doing whatever he wants to whether or not the students are for or against it,” said Manuel Lopez, a graduate student at UNM.
Students said they were not consulted before the decision to change the process was made. They want to the SFRB to remain involved in the process.
“We are hoping that he will allow us to include the student support on libraries and athletics because students need to be heard on those issues,” said Luke Holmen, a member of the SFRB.
According to student leaders the president’s decision affects $4 million in money budgeted for the Athletics Department and $780,000 for University Libraries.
“Students will no longer have that voice,” said student Isaac Romero. “Which means if students no longer have that voice, the administration can do whatever they want essentially with no accountability.”
However, President Frank said he made the decision because the SFRB process for Athletics and University Libraries had, at times, led to unproductive work and confusion regarding funding stability and the overall fiscal situation of the university. He said students will still have input in the two departments, just not through the SFRB.
"UNM is committed to transparency and shared governance, and student participation is critical to our success. The decision to remove university libraries and athletics from the student fee review board process is a part of larger budget process reforms, all of which are designed to allow more time for input, discussion and dialogue,” said President Frank. “While we had discussed postponing a decision until the fall semester, that agreement was not finalized and the spirit of those discussions were that we not implement changes over the summer while students were away from campus.
Students will continue to have a strong voice, through the current strategic budget leadership team process as well as the newly announced student cabinet."
The changes take effect this fall.