On Nov. 16, the Undergraduate Student Government Senate met to discuss important issues that affect current and future students at the University of Connecticut. Topics included an increased fee proposal, mental health risk assessment and affirmative action regarding the application process.
Increased Fee Proposal
Ben Keilty, USG comptroller, introduced the student fee increase proposal which would go into effect next academic school year. He explained the categories of student fees that all UConn students have to pay each semester and the likelihood of an increase in those costs.
“Student fees fund a lot of the extracurricular and co-curricular activities and things that happen at UConn including student activities, some portions of athletics, commuter student services, all sorts of things,” Keilty said, “What we saw across the board is an increase in required funds due to collective bargaining increases.”
Student fees include Student Health and Wellness services, bus services and the Recreation Center, to name a few. Damani R. Douglas, student trustee, went into more depth about what exactly the student fees cover and the reasoning for the increase. He explained that the factors, when considering fee increases, are contractual obligations, inflation and increased services.
“Student Health and Wellness is the largest driver here,” Douglas said. “It’s actually hiring more mental health initiatives […] as a result, the price of Student Health and Wellness is going up as a part of that.”
According to Douglas, It is predicted that the fees will increase about 4.8% for students. He explained that it would cost about $1,300 for an on-campus student and $900 for a commuter.
“Keep in mind that this is a draft. This is not final,” Douglas said.
How upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisions could impact UConn
The Supreme Court is considering the factoring of race in higher education admissions with the case SFFA v. Harvard & UNC. Students For Fair Admissions, Inc. argue that “our constitution is colorblind” and that race should not be used at all in admissions process. The organization sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina in 2014, according to https://studentsforfairadmissions.org.
Douglas explained that UConn currently uses a holistic view when reviewing admissions, one that includes grades, GPA, leadership, citizenship, character, diversity, service and more. He articulated that this could change depending on the court decision.
“If nothing changes here, which in our opinion, is the best case scenario,” Douglas said. “Right now we do not have a way to achieve or approach our diversity goals without including race as a factor of admissions.”
When asked how this impacts future UConn students, Douglas expressed that the Supreme Court decision could alter the admission process for incoming students in 2024.
“We are expecting the Supreme Court to tell us what to do sometime in late June,” Douglas said.
State of Position regarding the implementation of a Health Risk Assessment
The mental health risk assessment is a survey that students can take to learn more about their mental health and use that information to take advantage of resources offered by the university. Sean Dunn, school of engineering senator, presented his legislation to his fellow senators.
“A lot of students are living with undiagnosed mental disorders and so it’s very important that there’s a bridge between the resources that SHaW has and to the students,” Dunn said.
When asked about the accountability of the assessment, Dunn said the link would be incorporated into the required documents that students have to fill out at the beginning of every school year, which would allow all students to view it and fill it out if they wanted to.
“It would just be putting a link somewhere. So there would be no costs,” Dunn expressed.
According to Dunn, it is not a medical diagnosis; however, students can answer questions and learn more about themselves and ways they can help themselves.
“They’ll get generic feedback based on their answers and then, given that, they can take further steps for themselves,” Dunn said.
Dunn said the optional and anonymous form would take about 10 to 15 minutes to fill out and would be available for all incoming and current students on the Storrs and regional campuses.
USG Senate meetings occur every other Wednesday. To learn more, visit their website https://usg.uconn.edu/