Editor’s note: Editor-in-chief Karissa Schmidt did not contribute to the writing or editing of this story.
On Thursday, Committee for Fee Allocations members informed the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community about University Program and Facilities Fee users’ budgets for the next fiscal year.
Fee users submitted UPFF requests in late January, and CFA members unanimously accepted and submitted their recommendations for the amount of student fees each user should receive. All requested amounts matched recommended amounts, including the amounts for The Daily Nebraskan, the Lied Center for Performing Arts and Campus Recreation which asked for more student fees. CFA members will vote on their final recommendations next Thursday, Feb. 13.
ASUN speaker of the senate Drew Harrahill and external vice president Ibraheem Hamzat were among the students who attended the event. The two directed questions to The Daily Nebraskan and the Lied Center about their budget requests.
The Daily Nebraskan is asking for an additional $8,500 to pay for Hearken, a technology-based organization that fuels the Curious Cornhuskers initiative that allows readers to submit questions online. With the additional funds, The Daily Nebraskan would continue the initiative into the next fiscal year and answer more questions asked by readers.
In his recommendation for The Daily Nebraskan and The DailyER’s budget, CFA member Ryan Wolff said he felt the increase was justified for the direct benefit being provided to students.
Harahill and Hamzat raised questions about Hearken and whether it was worth the price.
Karissa Schmidt, editor-in-chief of The Daily Nebraskan said Curious Cornhuskers through Hearken generates stories that students care about. Allen Vaughan, general manager for The Daily Nebraskan and The DailyER, said the technology added to the publishing process by helping the staff organize the questions asked by students. The Daily Nebraskan intends to use Curious Cornhuskers in the future for organizing events and networking to increase revenue and allow for more student interactions.
“I think that Curious Cornhuskers has a lot of value to us that is beyond just this,” Vaughan said. “I think this just helps us get [The Daily Nebraskan] off the ground and gives us a real good fertile soil platform to be able to work with and then where it can become a big time part of what The DN does.”
Hamzat also asked why The Daily Nebraskan staff is paid. Vaughan said the pay is a way to give back to the time reporters use covering recognized student organizations, events on campus and answering student questions.
Harahill asked The DailyER if its employees were paid. Due to increased printing costs impacted by the closing of Lincoln’s Lincoln Journal Star Printing services, Duncan Rea Moore, editor-in-chief of The DailyER, said the students were not able to be paid. Having switched to a cheaper publishing company in Blair, he said he hopes to reinstate a pay system for the staff members who stayed despite not being paid.
“I think that’s good proof that the people who work for The DailyER are genuinely committed to it and really aren’t doing it for the pay,” he said.
The Lied Center has the goal of every UNL student graduating with at least one professional arts experience at the Lied and is asking for an additional $25,000 or a total of $210,000 in student fees. The organization’s request is due to an increase in student tickets sold each year.
Harrahill asked Bill Stephan, executive director of the Lied Center, what the driving factor was for the 13.5% increase in the budget. Stephan said he asked for the budget increase to match the increase in student demand. CFA chair Jacob Gideon said he recommended the Lied Center look into gradually increasing the budget every year rather than a steep increase every few years.
Campus Recreation requested an additional $45,070 of UPFF funds to keep up with a rising Building Cost Index of 4.84% and for purchased services for the organization’s 39 active sports clubs.
ASUN requested a $68,528 decrease in its UPFF from fiscal year 2020’s actual budget of $586,747 to $518,219. ASUN was able to ask for the decrease due to having one less full-time staff member, a reorganization of staff starting at a lower salary and having lower internal operating costs. In the previous fiscal year, ASUN budgeted for more money than what was used as well.
Recommendations are not yet finalized and committee members are able to amend the budgets before their final committee vote on the allocations.
CFA will meet again at 6:30 p.m. in the Regency Suite in the Nebraska Union next Thursday to finalize recommendations and officially move the allocations for a final vote by ASUN senators either late February or early March.