UISG votes ‘no’ on proposed FilmScene equipment expansion

A proposal to provide equipment to the new FilmScene building, opening in the fall, was rejected by UISG, citing concerns over the use of student dollars.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

Concerns over use of student dollars arose concerning a recent proposal to fund new equipment for FilmScene.

The University of Iowa Student Government rejected S.S.R 18 at its meeting on April 4 to fund equipment for the new FilmScene theater in the Chauncey Building, located at the intersection of Gilbert and College Streets. The legislation proposed a permanent increase on the student-activity fee from $72 to $74.

The $2 increase was intended generate $51,500 for fiscal 2020 to fund equipment for FilmScene. The fee increase in subsequent fiscal years would go to funding UISG’s deferred maintenance fund, which maintains equipment for student organizations.

All proposed fee increases are subject to approval from the Student Activity Fee Committee and the state Board of Regents.

FilmScene had originally requested $246,740 in exchange for discounted student ticket prices and free memberships to FilmScene for all first-year students. The proposal debated in S.S.R 18 would have provided around $60,000.

Bijou and FilmScene executives spoke in support of the increased funding.

FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler said the cinema is interested in making art accessible for students but could not promise the original terms of the agreement without the full level of funding.

“This original agreement was a twofold agreement, and then annual funding, centered on two major discounts — a regular membership from $50 to $25 and a student ticket price from $8.50 to $6.50. Without a single agreement, we would not be able to promise that new-member agreement or the executive discount,” he said. “I’m very interested in working with Bijou to make our art as accessible for students. We know the dollars aren’t there, and I want to make sure they’re accessible.”

Bijou Executive Director Tristen Ives said equipment from the current FilmScene theater is not transferable to the Chauncey.

“This is absolutely necessary for us,” Ives said. “Bijou has a 100 percent interest to make all student pricing free. Bijou is still trying to keep that spark alive, and this the next step in trying to get that.”

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UISG Sen. Joseph Verry opposed the legislation, citing concerns over increasing the funds allocated to student government through student-activity fees.

“This body lacks representation in a lot of areas,” he said. “I would like to see more representation and more diversity here in this room before I pass more money from students, because I know the more money that we ask from students, the more other people will ask UISG for.”

Sen. Oscar Rodriguez also opposed the measure, saying he had not had enough time to fully consider it.

“We received this piece of legislation at 12 p.m., and I believe that, when we’re considering changing student fees, it’s incredibly important that we have that student input,” he said. “I haven’t had ample time to talk to my constituents and other students about how they feel about this piece of legislation, and I would argue that a lot of senators also haven’t had that time.”