by Liz CarterDaily Cougar Staff
UH Provost Jack Ivancevich discussed the administration's "proposed" General Use Fee increase for more than two hours Wednesday during the Students' Association Senate meeting.
Ivancevich told members that the GUF increase was not only fair but necessary.
Although Ivancevich said the fee will be increased regardless of student objections voiced at Tuesday's forum, he expressed his concern that students don't understand why the fee must be increased to $30 per semester credit hour from the present $12 per semester credit hour.
"When we went to the state of Texas, they asked if we took advantage of GUF," Ivancevich said. "We said, `No.' (Then) they said, `Don't come to us until it's utilized to its full potential.' "
Instead of gradually increasing the GUF in increments, as the University of Texas and Texas A&M did, Ivancevich said UH must increase the GUF in full, because the administration failed to increase the fee in September 1995. Ivancevich said UH interim President Glenn Goerke's administration, which began in July 1995, didn't have time to increase the GUF last fall.
Sen. Brad Castelo asked if there was a downside to the fee raise. Ivancevich said there could only be a downside if enrollment drastically decreases.
"I'm fearful of that, but I'll be here still (to take the flak)," said Ivancevich, who has been at UH for 85 percent of his career.
UH students' satisfaction levels must improve before student enrollment increases, Ivancevich said. "We need some pride and (we need) to market the place."
In 1995, the GUF generated $8.9 million. Ivancevich predicts that the increased fee will generate an additional $11 million.
Although Ivancevich didn't give specific monetary amounts or indicate exactly where the money would be spent, he said, "We're going to get a little more specific (at the next meeting)."
UH students will have a final opportunity to voice their opinion on the fee increase at a forum to be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 18, in the University Center Unde-rground's World Affairs Lounge.
"The plan will come out in bits and pieces in the next six months," Ivancevich said.
He indicated that the money will be used for a wide range of academic programs.
Out-going SA Vice President Dom Lewinsohn asked how international and out-of-state students would be affected by the increase.
Ivancevich said, "We're going to look if we're pricing ourselves out internationally."
Before Ivancevich left the meeting, Lewinsohn said, "The PR on this was really bad. Students get angry when they don't understand what's going on." Lewinsohn also placed some of the blame on the constant shifting of administration. He said the UH presidency had turned over three times since he came to UH as a freshman.
Every time a new president takes over, he or she changes how the administration is run, Lewinsohn said.
He said the academic situation could be different in the next three years if another president is appointed.
Ivancevich ended his speech on a good note by telling SA that UH has moved from the 190th largest endowment recipient to the 91st in the nation.
"The Cullen family put UH on the map," Ivancevich said.
After Ivancevich left, out-going SA President Giovanni Garibay addressed the Senate on his concerns with the GUF.
"It's a lot of money. It's kind of a done deal, but I think it is possible for students to do something," he said. "We need to look for loopholes before we pay this kind of money."
Speaker Pro-Tempore and Cougar Party presidential candidate John Moore said, "We need to send the message back to the administration that we're not pleased about this increase."
SA quickly ended the meeting after passing a bill to increase the budget for its inaugural banquet to $2,500.
Last year's "inauguration" banquet cost $2,700, and the event was still unsatisfactory, Sen. Jon Erickson said.
Although this year's budget was approved at $2,000, spending has already amounted to $2,200.
Spending must be increased "unless you want something with gravy on the side," Erickson said. "There needs to be room for the budget to grow."
He said the banquet is a reward for representatives who worked hard all year and will continue to work hard.