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Budget forum provides insight on college fees

by Bridgette Babb
Tue, Feb 26th 2019 09:00 pm

On Thursday, Feb. 21, Brockport administrative staff from different departments met to go over the annual fee forum for the new year. 

Individuals such as President Heidi Macpherson as well as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Katy Heyning, were in attendance. 

Director of Information, Library and Technology Bob Cushman, presented first and discussed the technology fee. The fee pays the licensing for services like Blackboard, Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. It provides the upkeep and maintenance on computer labs as well as students’ printing budgets. 

At the meeting, Cushman said the average cost of the technology fee in other SUNY schools is $416 per year. That fee is doubled for grad students who are primarily online students since they are utilizing an entire IT service. Currently Brockport only charges $375, but they are asking for an increase up to $381. 

As of now, Cushman says the biggest issue the department is having is dealing with charges hitting at the end of the fiscal year. This causes the estimate each year to be inaccurate. 

“We are seeing a significant increase on existing software, which is not surprising,” Cushman said. “We also have some new applications being installed right now, such as the new and improved virtual lab.”

With the increase in software and applications, Cushman is hoping to hire some help. He wants to add a student position in cyber security. The department would be using reserves to fund those changes as no professional salaries come out of this techonolgy-only fee. 

He added that with minimum wage rising, it would only be right to pay work study students more. Cushman asked for a $6 fee increase for students for the entire year, which equates to a 3.5 percent increase. 

Cushman also spoke about a new program called “Guardian,” which would be a mobile form of the blue light phone system on campus. Students would download an app. If they feel unsafe, they could use the app to alert University Police instead of calling 9-1-1. The app would also provide emergency alerts. 

Provost Heyning felt that the technology budget was one of the most important and that the increase would indeed help in the advancement of the campus. 

Director of the Hazen Center for integrated care Libby Caruso, was next and said the health fee covers both the health and counseling centers in addition to psychiatric services, as well as prevention and outreach programs. 

The center has been trying to dig out of a negative balance for a while. Caruso talked about the program Hazen tried last year, where students could pay $25 to have their medication be delivered to campus instead of going to the pharmacy. The program was not very successful and will be eliminateed, saving the college $40,000 to $50,000 a year in costs.

Looking ahead, Caruso said, in order to keep up with changing trends, the center needs more counselors and mental health support. 

However, the department is struggling with the demand of salaries. The salaries have to be competitive with Rochester Regional and Strong West Hospital. She asked for a $17 per year increase for the new semester, with the current fee being $334.

Athletics Director Erick Hart, spoke next about the athletic fee. This fee is only charged to undergrads and comes out to $465 annually.

“We are a fee based program,” Hart said. “If we didn’t have the support we would have to cut everything.”

The fee covers the bus companies teams use to travel and meals provided by Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation (BASC). One difference this year is the department having to order the fall semester gear and it coming in too late.

“The last two years we struggled with fall sports not having the equipment gear till the middle of the season, so the cycles just don’t add up right,” Hart said. “We are gonna get ahead of it now and order from this year’s money for next year.”

Additionally, Hart said the Athletics Department hopes to renovate three of the women’s locker rooms in Tuttle. When asked why the college spent a generous sum on the football locker room instead of spreading that money out, Hart told everyone that since it was a private donor, they had to spend it specifically on what the donor wanted. 

Hart compared Brockport and Cortland’s budgets, showing that part of Brockport’s fee goes to paying head coaches, but Cortland’s head coaches are paid from a state budget. In roughly three years time they are looking at doing a pretty serious renovation on the Tuttle building. 

Hart asked for a $20 dollar fee increase, expecting a surplus by the end of 2019.

Campus Recreation Director Scott Haines talked about the SERC facilities. Last year was the first time they asked for a fee increase in three years and, at this time, they are not asking for another fee increase. 

Most of the revenue comes into the SERC from rentals. Athletics pays to reserve space in the building, as do the surrounding schools. One of the biggest sources of this revenue is wrestling tournaments. Not only do they pay to rent the space but it also brings people to Brockport who normally wouldn’t be visiting campus. This could potentially be a recruitment method. 

Looking ahead to the next few years, Campus Recreation is looking to buy new zambonis for the ice arena. In the meeting Haines mentioned the current zambonis are very old, and one still runs on propane. 

Haines also spoke about wanting to increase the amount student workers are paid, adding that there have been less students hired due to more students working longer hours. Haines went on to talk about the rise in club sports and needing to hire an athletic trainer for them. 

Director of Alumni Kerry Gotham talked about the optional Brockport gift fee. This $25 fee goes to support opportunities like internships and  study abroad programs. The fee can be waived from students’ bills if they so choose. 

In the past, this fee had been known as the Alumni Fee, but they changed the name to be more transparent. They are proposing a change to the current fees by dropping the $40 commencement fee and adding a $5 increase, per semester, to the gift fee. 

Gotham joked about schools like SUNY Plattsburgh having students have to write a letter reciting the reason they wanted to not gift the school.

Career Services, whose current fee is $10 per semester and not increasing, spoke next. Jill Wesley plugged the career fair happening March 6. She then went on to talk about what services the fee covers, such as the online service, Handshake. Career Services helps students reach out to employers and practice interviewing, as well as managing student employees. Wesley wants to hire a new graduate assistant and an employers relations graduate assistant.

The final speaker was Johnna Frosini from Parking and Transportation. This student fee goes towards funding the campus shuttle. Some of the plans for the future include a bus app so students can look at a map to see where their bus is and how long of a wait time they can expect. There are reserves built up that they plan on dipping into and are not asking for a fee increase at this time.