Student fees may increase $2 to support Bijou/FilmScene partnership

Bijou and FilmScene will continue their partnership in providing free and reduced priced movies for students in FilmScene’s new Chauncey building location. A proposed $2 student fee increase will pay for new equipment for the Chauncey – allowing Bijou to use the space rent free.


Katie Goodale

UISG President Noel Miller speaks during a UISG meeting in the Blackbox Theater of the IMU on Aug. 27, 2019.

Rylee Wilson & Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporters

University of Iowa students could see the continuation of student discounts on memberships and tickets at the new Gilbert Street location of FilmScene, as well as a Student Activity Fee increase of $2 to make that possible.

UI Student Government passed a resolution to propose a $2 student-fee increase at its Tuesday meeting. The increase will fund equipment for the new FilmScene location in the Chauncey Building and create a deferred maintenance fund for use by student organizations.

In return for the student-fee investment in equipment for the FilmScene theater, students will receive a $1.50 discount on all FilmScene tickets, as well as a 30 percent discount on memberships. 

All Bijou Film Board events will remain free for students. The equipment purchased by UISG will allow Bijou access to FilmScene facilities rent-free. 

The proposed student-fee increase is subject to approval by the Student Fee Committee and the state Board of Regents. UISG adviser Bill Nelson, the IMU executive director, estimated the Student Activity Fee has not been raised in the past four or five years. 

Bijou originally submitted a request for $250,000 in funding from student governments. This proposal was voted down by the 2018-19 Student Senate. 

The legislation provides $65,000 to Bijou to pay for a new digital projector and accessories. Of that amount, $52,000 comes from the proposed student-fee increase, while the other $13,000 in funding will be from reversions in the UISG and Graduate and Professional Student Government budgets. 

RELATED: UISG votes to give KRUI funding to replace equipment

The funding is added to the $56,000 annual operating budget for Bijou, provided by both UISG and GPSG. 

At the conclusion of fiscal 2021, the $2 fee increase will contribute to the proposed combined deferred-maintenance fund  maintained by UISG and GPSG. The proposed fund provides student organizations with money to maintain and replace equipment. 

The fund would be designed to provide equipment maintenance and repairs for technology dependent student organizations such as Bijou, KRUI, and SCOPE, UISG President Noel Mills said. 

In the spring of 2019, UISG provided KRUI with approximately $156,000 amount to replace broken equipment. The deferred maintenance fund is designed in part to prevent future large-sum requests for equipment funding.

Molly Bagnall, executive director of Bijou Film Board, said the proposed student-fee increase will directly benefit students in the form of lower FilmScene prices. 

RELATED: UISG votes ‘no’ on proposed FilmScene equipment expansion

“Bijou is committed to making art accessible to all students; that’s why our events are free,” Bagnall said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Moving into the new building, we have the opportunity to expand that mission to many more students, all made possible with the new equipment that is required in the new building.” 

In a statement to the DI, FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler said UISG’s support of Bijou has been critical to the organization. 

“From the beginning, the Bijou Film Board has contributed towards the essential equipment necessary to run a full-time cinema,” Tiefenthaler said. “… This investment ensures continued student participation in programming and access to films in this new facility.”

UISG Sen. Caleb Smith argued for the resolution, saying Bijou events provide a substance-free space for students downtown. 

“This provides an opportunity for students to do something different, do something new,” he said. “I do think that this will provide an opportunity for people to do different things as opposed to the bar scene.”

Last spring, GPSG passed similar legislation but now would need to pass identical legislation to send this resolution to the Student Fee Committee because a new fiscal year has started. 

The new FilmScene location in the Chauncey building is set to open Sept. 20. 

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