USG Senate debates important issues: proposal for increased fees, health risk assessment and affirmative action at UConn


On November 16, the Undergraduate Student Government Senate met to discuss important issues that affect current and future students at the University of Connecticut. Topics include an increased fee proposal, mental health risk assessment and affirmative action regarding the application process.

Proposal for an increased fee

Ben Keilty, USG superintendent, presented the proposal to increase student fees, which will take effect next school year. He explained the categories of student fees that all UConn students must 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 parts of athletics, traveling student services, all kinds of things,” Keilty said, “What we’ve seen across the board is an increase in the funds required due to collective bargaining increases.’

Student fees include student health and wellness services, bus services and a recreation center to name a few. Damani R. Douglas, Student Trustee, went into more depth about exactly what student fees cover and the reasons for the increase. He explained that the factors behind the fee increase were contractual obligations, inflation and increased services.

“Student health and well-being is the biggest driver here,” Douglas said. “It actually recruits more mental health initiatives […] as a result, the cost of Student Health and Wellness is going up as part of that.”

According to Douglas, fees are projected to increase by about 4.8 percent for students. He explained that it would cost about $1,300 for an on-campus student and $900 for a commuter.

“Keep in mind this is a draft. It’s not final,” Douglas said.

How upcoming US Supreme Court decisions could affect UConn

The Supreme Court addresses the factoring of race in higher education admissions with SFFA v. Harvard and UNC. Students For Fair Admissions, Inc. argue that “our constitution is color blind” and that race should not be used in the admissions process at all. The organization sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina in 2014, according to https://studentsforfairadmissions.org.

Douglas explained that UConn currently takes a holistic view when reviewing admissions, one that includes grades, GPA, leadership, citizenship, character, diversity, service and more. He indicated that this could change depending on the court’s decision.

“If nothing changes here, which we think is the best case scenario,” Douglas said. “We currently have no way to achieve or come close to our diversity goals without including race as a factor in admissions.”

When asked how this affects prospective UConn students, Douglas expressed that the Supreme Court’s decision could change the admissions process for incoming 2024 students.

“We expect the Supreme Court to tell us what to do sometime in late June,” Douglas said.

Status of the position regarding the implementation of health risk assessment

The Mental Health Risk Assessment is a survey students can take to learn more about their mental health and use that information to take advantage of the resources offered by the university. Sean Dunn, a senator from the School of Engineering, introduced his legislation to his fellow senators.

“Many students are living with undiagnosed mental health disorders, so it’s very important to have a bridge between the resources that SHaW has and the students,” Dunn said.

When asked about the assessment’s accountability, Dunn said the link will be included in the required paperwork that students must fill out at the beginning of each school year, allowing all students to see it and fill it out if they want.

“It would just be a matter of putting a link somewhere. So there will be no cost,” Dunn said.

According to Dunn, this is not a medical diagnosis; however, students can answer questions and learn more about themselves and ways they can help themselves.

“They’ll get general feedback based on their answers, and then, with that in mind, they can take further steps for themselves,” Dunn said.

Dunn said the optional and anonymous form will take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and will be available to all incoming and current students at Storrs and regional campuses.

USG Senate meetings are held every second Wednesday. To learn more, visit their website https://usg.uconn.edu/

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