SGA passes resolutions

Jessica Sasseen

In the midst of rapid enrollment growth, the Student Government Association passed two resolutions Tuesday outlining relief for underpaid Western faculty and a shortage of faculty.

After discovering Western has a shortage of 75 faculty members and the lowest paid faculty of any university in the state, the Student Government Association decided to take action.

The university’s budget is built on an enrollment projection for the next year. When more students enroll than budgeted for, an excess of tuition and fees accumulates. Provost Barbara Burch said $800,000 of unbudgeted money was collected this year.

That money hasn’t gone anywhere. The president has set it aside to cover possible budget cuts by the state, Burch said.

Last year, more than $400,000 was collected in unbudgeted surplus. It was used to pay temporary and part-time employees.

SGA wants the money to pay faculty.

“What we’re asking with this bill is that money to go back to hire additional faculty members,” SGA member and author of the bill, Troy Ransdell said. “Especially in programs like nursing where they turn away 150 students because they couldn’t hold anymore.”

The resolution proposes that any future surplus money be earmarked specifically for academic improvements.

“If you have additional students and new tuition money,” Burch said. “I really do believe that academic affairs has claim on those dollars.”

Ransdell also helped author another resolution that passed Tuesday night encouraging President Gary Ransdell to create a Task Force on Enrollment.

He envisioned at least two students, four faculty members and two members of the administration to investigate solutions for the problems caused by Western’s enrollment growth.

Beginning in February, the group would run for four to six weeks, Troy Ransdell said, with proposed resolutions compiled no later than May.

“I’d like to have a solution in hand to present to President Ransdell to present to the budgetary committee so he could say ‘Here’s what we’re doing’ so the money will go to necessary areas,” Ransdell said.

SGA also passed a third resolution Tuesday requesting a change in the policy concerning the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation donor parking at on-campus activities.

An author of this bill, Bob Bell, said this resolution was prompted when the athletic department decided to use Grise Hall parking lot for HAF parking at basketball games. It mainly affects commuting students.

“Currently students pay $65 for a parking permit,” Bell said. “Students also pay in athletic fees alone $250 per year, including a Title IX fee, to the athletic department. That is as much money as the HAF donors pay to park on campus.

“We represent the students, and I think it’s crazy for anybody in SGA to say that students should give up their parking privileges.”

SGA president Jamie Sears said the current HAF parking policy is a good compromise.

“Open spaces are going be used, not cleared,” Sears said. “I do know that there needs to be some discussion and some revision for next year, but for the games we have left, I feel like the students weren’t done wrong.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]