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Volume 68, Issue 102, Monday, Febraury 24,  2003


Staff Editorial


Matthew Dulin         Geronimo Rodriguez        Shaun Salnave          Cara Sarelli

Debate's budget debatable

Tuesday, the UH Forensics Society -- think home of the UH Speech and Debate Team, not a group of doctors from police dramas -- made a presentation asking the Student Fees Allocation Committee for funding for the first time.

Previously, Forensics has gotten its support from sources other than student fees, including private donations, events and The Honors College.

The Forensics Society anticipates all those sources to continue next year, but also foresees far greater expenses. According to its budget, Forensics expects to spend $109,720 on its 57 undergraduate and graduate members in Fiscal Year 2003.

Yes, that's right. More that a hundred thousand bucks on fewer than 60 students. Don't worry, though; Forensics isn't asking for all of that to come out of student fees. Only $77,720 of it.

What does that mean? Well, roughly $2.25 would be taken from every student at UH to give more than $1,300 to the one-fifth of 1 percent of students that are members of the Forensics Society.

That seems a bit unbalanced.

Granted, similar things might be said about certain other groups that are awarded much more sizable chunks of money -- the Athletics Department, for example.

What Athletics claims to provide for students in return for our money is an opportunity "to develop the leadership of student/athletes" and to "promote the University's image and mission."

The Forensics Society accomplishes many of the same things, if on a much lower scale: the University of Texas and Rice University both have nationally-ranked (nos. 1 and 18, respectively) forensics programs with much higher budgets than UH's. These programs draw students interested in forensics to those universities, and add recognition for academic excellence.

The Forensics Society's other goal -- to provide opportunities "for all students to apply their public speaking skills in ways that benefit local communities" -- is admirable, and a well-funded team would undoubtedly accomplish that goal and gain the University further recognition.

Student fees though, are supposed to be spent on services useful to students, and weive got to ask: Is what weire getting enough to justify $77,720?

The environment was at the center of this controversy. Rather than tackle the true source of the problem (the fact that Houston is a mecca for refineries), the TNRCC elected to solve our environmental woes by dropping the speed limit by 15 miles per hour. 

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