Thursday, October 09, 2003

Fee Hikes Again
Alexander Marriott October 8, 2003

A continual theme, it seems, is the ever continuing spate of fee hikes that students at this University pay year after year for many so-called “improvements.” The supporters of these fee hikes claim that a majority of the students want these improvements and are willing to pay the extra money. If this is so then why impose a fee? Why not just ask for voluntary donations from the willing and desirous students?

I’ve never seen this proposed before, which makes these claims that students are gung-ho about the “improvements” seem somewhat dubious. What are these “improvements” that are currently being used to justify our particular fee hikes?

Well there is the proposed doubling of space for the Moyer Student Union, which, we all know, needs to be done.

There is a new dorm being built. Not sure why this necessitates a fee hike, but since the wise ones in student government seem to think it’s important, I’ll go along with it.

There is a Student Recreation Center in the works which I’m sure will be nice for all those students who won’t have had to pay for it. But, it seems this is a direly needed building, so I won’t oppose that either.

All of these buildings sound interesting and will probably be fun to hang out in or use in the future. My question is why isn’t the expected cost of future constructions figured into tuition costs? It isn’t as if any of these constructions are incredibly vital. It’s not as if the University will have to close down without them tomorrow morning.

To always have continual fees and new fees imposed gives the impression that the University has realized it has a ready revenue stream they never thought about before and want to keep exploiting it until people really start getting mad.
It is not the case, that if fees aren’t imposed, that these buildings won’t get built. If there is a real demand for such facilities one can ask for donations or get a loan by presenting a viable business model to a lender. If demand for these services is as high as the fee hikers say it is then user fees should be able to cover the costs after a while and then the University can turn a profit and fund future projects more easily.

Just because this is a University doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be run as efficiently as possible and making money. The fact that fees keep going up tells me that this is not being done and that the students are the ones expected to make up for this administrative deficiency.

It is nice to see Regent Steve Sisolak pointing some of these things and trying to get people to be more involved in this process. One of the things he has brought up that is important is parking.

Anyone who commutes to school knows that parking can be problematic at certain times during the day. These projects all seem inconveniently placed within the bounds of the parking lot, eating up spaces as they progress.

Why might this be? The only thing that comes to mind, other than the paranoid fear that they are trying to inconvenience me, is that with a reduction of parking lot spaces people will be increasingly forced to consider parking at the parking complex, which is far more expensive. Also, the constriction in the supply of parking spaces, while the demand for them keeps growing with ever increasing enrollment, means that the price for parking permits will end up rising as well.

Ultimately, this represents a serious problem that is endemic to public universities. They cannot stop taking qualified students and they aren’t really worried about finances because the public wallet is always open. So there is a situation of never-ending growth in enrollment and the inability to construct buildings fast enough to accommodate the new students. This differs from the private university because they generally construct the new buildings first and then increase the numbers of people who can enroll.

This would seem to be an unsolvable dilemma, the solution to which is radical and painful, but hey, I just want these fees to stop first.

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