SGA hears about proposed tuition increase, student concerns with cafeteria


At its last meeting of the year, the Fort Hays State University Student Government Association heard about the university’s proposed tuition increase for next year and a student’s concerns with the food service management.

University President Tisa Mason spoke about the proposed tuition increase, which is $8.88 per credit hour (6%), and a fee increase, which is 92 cents per credit hour (2.3%). If the increases are approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in June, tuition would cost $156.81 per credit hour and fees would cost $40.79 per credit hour. 

“We basically have a semester-long process, and the No. 1 thing that we do when we start is we think about our mission of the university, which is to be accessible,” Mason said. “Accessibility really means affordability. It’s something that we really take to heart, so we don’t like moving forward with an increase but we try and manage that the best that we can.”

According to Mason, the proposed increase is the result of market research and conversations within the Budget Committee, which consists of members from the Senior Leadership Team, SGA, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate. 

Both proposed increases are due to inflation. Mason confirmed what SGA Legislative Affairs Director Austin Ruff said last week, that the fee changes passed by student senators earlier this semester will be adjusted to reflect the 2.3% increase if it is approved.

Mason noted that while the increase is needed, the university secured money from the state Legislature for other costs. 

“We’ve got an additional $3 million that will help with our student success initiatives and maybe add an advisor or two if we can so that the advising loads aren’t as heavy,” she said.

Additional money will go towards funding the Stroup Hall renovations, need-based aid, a new professional and continuing education unit and a telehealth certification for counselors. 

“It’s all a balance between enrollment and what we charge trying to keep everything down,” Mason said.

She also mentioned that FHSU will still be the most affordable university in Kansas if the increases are approved.

“It’s a really good value,” she said. “When you think about your class size, the student support services that you have, the faculty and staff that really want to help you be successful, I think value is in all capitals.”

During the open forum section of the meeting, a student and former cafeteria employee, Harleigh Smith, discussed a number of concerns she has with the food service management, the Union Catering Co. 

Smith’s concerns included food quality, quantity and staff treatment. According to her, the food served – which is “the same few things every week” – is the cheapest option available and there is sometimes not enough.

“Last Thursday, for example, we started serving at 5 and by 5:45, the grill station was shut down because we didn’t have any food for the students,” she said.

Smith also claimed that her reports of harassment were not taken seriously by the company’s human resources specialist. Additionally, she said starting over winter break, some employees with disabilities and some long-time employees were kept on the schedule but not given hours. She was also told she would not have a job at the beginning of the semester, but one of the managers advocated for her to be on the schedule. 

Smith also said the managers who work salaried positions sometimes work 16-hour shifts several days a week. 

“Even if you are salaried, you should not have to do that,” she said. “The rest of us that were non-salaried had our hours cut drastically and they can’t keep people who work for them.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Joey Linn, who attended the meeting as an SGA advisor, told Tiger Media Network this is the first he’s heard of these issues.

“We need to do follow-ups with both sides,” Linn said.

Tiger Media Network reached out to Union Catering Co. for comment.

“We deny the statements that have been made by a disgruntled former employee, and we can’t comment on the confidential personnel information,” UCC Operator Wes Rathburn told TMN.

FHSU recently entered into a verbal agreement with the Union Catering Co. for a five-year contract.

SGA will reconvene in the fall after the start of the next semester.