On Nov. 11, the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board met to discuss the proposed $88 increase in student fees to benefit the Student Health Center, Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Center for Wellness Promotion.
The motion was passed unanimously by the 12 present board members. According to the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board website, the board is comprised of 21 student leaders, including Student Body President Tahlieah Sampson and Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Kevin Bailey. The budget increase must now be approved by Chancellor Gaber.
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Dennis Wiese, who was the speaker for the event, proposed the fee increase. Wiese argued that the fee increase was necessary in order to meet heightened student demand, counteract underfunding, aid in the impact of systemic social injustice, combat COVID-19 and address the lasting effects of the 2019 campus shooting on students' wellbeing.
Dr. Wiese highlighted two goals: the need to balance the budget and to prepare for the future. He pointed out that the health services budget has received less than needed to break even, the Student Health Center has increased staff by 13 to meet student needs and there has been zero funding for operational reserves.
Students paid $247 in student health fees in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. If approved by Gaber, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, the fee for 2021-2022 will be $335.
A $57 fee increase was requested and $40 were allocated for the 2020-2021 school year; however, the Board of Governors prohibited fee increases during the 2020-2021 school year, so the $40 increase did not go into effect.
The operational reserves would go toward funds such as annual maintenance on the building, remodeling and refurbishing and general building repair.
According to Wiese, the fee increase would allow the Student Health Center to meet the needs of students at UNC Charlotte by adding new staff, avoiding $1.2 million in deficit spending, begin rebuilding the operational reserve, and increasing awareness of student fee-funded services.
There will be no fee increase for the 2022-2023 school year if this $88 increase is authorized.
The increase in fees would fund initiatives including the hiring of more mental health professionals at CAPS and more staff at the Student Health Center, retaining the clinical addiction specialist, and hiring a dedicated communications team.