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UNM President reverses decision on student input

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In an about-face that seemed to satisfy just about everyone, University of New Mexico President Bob Frank on Friday offered to let a student panel continue to have a say in how student fees are spent.

Earlier this month, Frank said the Student Fee Review Board would no longer help decide how fees were allocated in two key areas, athletics and libraries. Student leaders responded by saying their authority had been snatched away and that the president had broken an agreement.

“As has been my view all along, student input in the funding levels for these units is critical,” Frank wrote in a letter dated May 9 to Associated Students President Isaac Romero.

In what he described as a few “small adjustments” to the SFRB process, Frank said the allocation of fees to athletics and libraries would remain under the SFRB’s purview, but the process would begin in September instead of the spring, as has been the case.

“SFRB deliberations and recommendations should include historical information, trends and benchmarking with peer universities,” Frank said. That information will become part of UNM’s four-year budget plan “to help provide predictability and stability” for departments receiving student fees. The proposal will be tried for two years.

Romero and Priscila Poliana, president of the Graduate & Professional Student Association, said they were pleased that Frank had changed his mind. The GPSA president chairs the SFRB; the AS president is vice chair.

Frank advised the Board of Regents of his proposal Friday. Regent Jamie Koch asked Poliana several times what she thinks the role of the SFRB should be. He said she had grilled Athletics Department representatives, but not other fee recipients. Koch presides over the regents’ Finance and Facilities Committee and told Poliana, “It’s not a dead issue with me.”

The only person to actually object to Frank’s letter was a student who told the regents that Frank’s letter was a slap in the face to women because it was addressed only to Romero.