ASG calls for reallocation of tech fees

Student Technology Fee
Student Technology Fee

The ASG has been dissatisfied with where the funds from BC student’s technology fee is going and are trying to change where it goes. The funds are going mostly towards the salaries of BC employees, instead of going towards technology for student use. The STF is a student fee paid every quarter, and is $3.50 for each credit taken.

“The Student Technology Fee was initiated to enhance the student experience at the college with technology investments,” stated ASG President Sam Akeyo. These would include the many computer labs available for students on campus. “Students can also submit funding requests to the Student Technology Fee committee for specific needs so long as the technology purchased is available for general student use,” said Akeyo. Despite this, in the STF budget over $600,000 went towards ITS employee salaries.

The student government and many people in Information Technology Services believe that “$677,000 in employee salaries plus $216,000 in benefits is by all accounts a misuse of student tuition fees,” said Akeyo. However, the STF budget, governed by a contract between the ASG and BC, is up for renegotiation every few years. Akeyo stated that the Board of Trustees “proposed an amendment to the contract that essentially stipulates that no more than 15 percent of STF monies” would go towards employee salaries. This would be less than the current 70 percent of STF monies going towards the employees.

The Board’s proposal contract stated that the employee salary allotments from the STF fund would begin with 25 percent the first year, then the following years would either be “fifteen percent of the total expenses resulting from paying the salaries and benefits of the classified, part time and exempt college employees” or “$100,000.00, and redistribute this amount to BC’s institutional budget from the STF budget.” According to the proposal contract, this would be in effect until the salaries and benefits for the college employees is at, or below 15 percent of the total yearly revenue from the STF.

The proposal ended up getting rejected. BC Executive Director of Finance Jennifer Strother saw that the college was looking at a budget deficit of around $5 or $6 million in the next academic year. “I understand where they’re coming from, but it’s not like they don’t have a sizable reserve,” said Akeyo.

Connor Sinnott, ASG technology officer and chair of the STF Committee stated in his draft report on the current state of the student technology fund that the “majority of the accumulated student technology budget is currently being spent on employees, whose benefits have accumulated over the past year and now draws roughly 80 percent of the STF’s roughly one million dollar budget.”

Sinnott also states that along with “the addition of scheduled software payments and maintenance fees, there are currently insufficient funds to sponsor any student request.”

Therefore, mandatory technology that students need could exceed the budget.

Over the past quarter, 63 percent of the STF budget was spent on employee salaries and benefits, not including the rollover from the previous quarter, which makes it 71 percent of the budget. Sinnot states that “other colleges in the area allocate roughly a maximum of 15 percent of their equivalent technology fees towards employees.”

However, if BC does not take as large of a cut from the STF, the money would have to come from somewhere else. “The college is looking at how we can fund some of the positions from other revenue sources, however there are no new sources of revenue so it will take time to determine a sustainable way to redistribute the salaries,” said Vice President of Information Technology Services Russell Beard. “Steps have been taken over the last six years to ensure that the no new salaries are paid from the technology fee.”

As of 2011, “the college has worked to reduce this obligation by moving hourly staff to other budgets and by not adding new positions to the fee,” said Beard. “This year we are looking ways to move a portion of the salaries to either state funded budgets or other fees.

However, this will not be finalized until we have a budget from the legislation.”