By Brix Hahn, Extreme Alaska
Note: this story was amended on May 16 to correct some errors and vague or inaccurate wording.
Last month four student workers from KSUA as well as the Concert Board adviser were given plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals and badges to attend South by Southwest, a music festival in Austin, Texas. Over the week they sat in on conferences, attended music concerts, met with popular and indie musicians and spent time collecting sound bites, to later be aired, of artists introducing KSUA 91.5 FM college radio.
KSUA’s general manager, programming manager, production director and music director attended the convention. Additionally, one ASUAF president-appointed student from Concert Board attended, but the university only covered his SXSW entry badge.
The UAF student body covered these expenses—whether they knew it or not.
KSUA’s spending breakdown
KSUA’s budget, specifically their travel budget, has been significantly more than The Sun Star’s and Concert Board’s. Historically this is because KSUA has a lot of expensive equipment that occasionally needs to be replaced–an antenna replacement alone can cost several hundred thousand dollars, according to Anne Williamson, ASUAF Office Manager and Advisor.
This year the radio station spent nearly its entire travel budget to send four students to the music and film festival. Airfare alone cost the UAF student body almost $6,500. Below is a specific break down of their expenses.
Two males and two females attended, so two hotel rooms were purchased. All four attendees also received $71 per day for meals and incidental expenses.
KSUA represents the campus radio and TV station, and the four students who attended brought back video footage to show evidence of their work in Austin, according to Williamson. None of the four students work at KSUA-TV.
Student fee breakdown
Each UAF student taking three or more credits on the Fairbanks campus pays the “Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks” fee of $35 each semester. This funding is later allotted to four organizations: Student Government, The Sun Star, Concert Board and KSUA radio and television. This $35 fee is just one of the several fees students must pay in order to receive credits and attend classes at UAF.
Other fees include:
- $8 Athletic fee
- $108 Student Health and Counseling Center fee
- $75 Student Recreation Center fee
- $20 Student Sustainability fee
- $5 (per credit hour, up to $60) Technology fee
- $13 Transportation fee
- $25 Wood Center Student Life fee
- UA Network Fee (2% of a student’s total tuition)
This year the ASUAF fee collected a total of $515,775 from students’ pockets, 49 percent of which was allocated to the three formerly mentioned multimedia organizations.
Here is a breakdown of those allotted funds:
|Organization||Funds Allotted||Percent of Total ASUAF Funds|
|The Sun Star||$36,104||7|
Although Student Government receives the most funding on the surface, this money is sorted and separated into smaller allotments for purposes such as attorney consultations, international student identification cards and toward funding student clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance, Board Game Club and Parkour Club, according to UAF’s official website. However, according Williamson UAF no longer has an ombudsman, and the Student Saver Program, which helped students receive local discounts, no longer exists.
Overall, KSUA has the most money to spend on their individual organization. Within this funding they have a $14,000 budget for travel alone, which is spent on students flying to events such as South by Southwest and paying their seven student employees.
Other KSUA allotments include:
- $60,000 for labor
- $1,500 for benefits
- $30,000 for contractual
- $2,000 for commodities
- $600 for miscellaneous
Here are the expenses for Concert Board:
- $10,000 travel
- $64,766 contractual
- $2,000 commodities
- $600 miscellaneous
And comparatively, The Sun Star receives:
- $35,000 labor
- $600 for benefits
- $30,000 for contractual
- $504 for commodities
Additionally, UAF estimates that The Sun Star should be earning approximately $30,000 annually from advertising revenue—making the paper nearly 50 percent self-sufficient and funded.
From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 KSUA has bee predicted to earn $82.50 from event ticket sales—this is the station’s only alternative income to ASUAF funding.
The Sun Star receives no funding for travel or “miscellaneous,” and students have traditionally paid for their own travel expenses to attend conferences.
“In a nutshell they don’t have a lot of money…historically their budget had been really small,” said Williamson.
According to Elika Roohi, the current Editor-In-Chief, this is because the paper tends to run over budget and there is little extra funding to support travel. However, this year they are able to send students to the Alaska Press Club conference in Anchorage this April 18-20 as well as to the regional Society for Professional Journalists conference. This funding comes from extra ad revenue from a past academic year and will benefit 13 to 15 students. The Sun Star will be paying for carpool gas and hotel rooms.
“It would be nice to have a travel budget that is comparable to that of KSUA and Concert Board,” said Roohi in a phone interview. She explained that it would benefit student journalists to be able to attend more conferences.
ASUAF’s fee increase
In the November 13, 2012 edition of The Sun Star, Jennifer Chambers, a former USUAF senator, wrote in a letter to the editor,
“Non-traditional, graduate, and CTC students are all less likely to read the Sun Star, listen to KSUA, and go to concerts, but pay the same [ASUAF] fee. It is unfair to ask these students to pay more in fees for a service that they do not use.”
Chambers was referring to a proposed ASUAF student fee increase that will hike the annual fee by $7 per student—a 20 percent increase.
According to Ian Olson, Director of Planning, Analysis and Institutional Research for UAF, non-traditional, graduate, and CTC student account for nearly 64 percent of UAF’s total student population. Additionally, on UAF’s official website it states, the “Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (ASUAF) represents student views and concerns to the university administration, board of regents and Alaska Legislature.”
Yet according to Chambers and Olson, ASUAF funding is specifically dedicated to benefit about 36 percent of its students.
The ASUAF fee has now been increased by $7 after a student ballot measure was passed last November. Student will now pay $42 each semester to this organization.
$13,000 could buy…
The allotted funds KSUA received for travel this year could have bought the UAF student body free/subsidized tickets to the Dev and Theophilus London concerts ($10/student ticket), a popcorn machine for all eight dorms ($80/each) and a bounce house ($5,000).
Take advantage of your “free” student services
After all of a student’s required fees have been paid, that student has the right to take advantage of the following services, which come out of ASUAF funding allotments.
- One appointment per semester with an attorney (UAF pays $50 for every 30-minute meeting)
- Free appointments with Anne Williamson, UAF’s current stand-in ombudsman
- Travel Scholarships–Student Government takes $30,000 of their annual travel budget and allots it to student travel scholarships, students can apply for funding each semester.