Students are not walking pocket books, but judging by the newly released breakdown of the “Dedicated Student Activity Fee,” they might as well be.
According to an email sent by ASUI, students pay $550.75 per semester for the fee that covers the costs of various services and facilities on campus. To be fair, most of the facilities listed in the category make sense to put on a student”s bill.
Services like the Counseling and Testing Center, the LGBTQA Office and Student Health Services, as well as others, provide students with vital support throughout their academic careers. What caused many students, including me, to raise their eyebrows was the whopping $127.96 per student allotted for Intercollegiate Athletics every semester.
The largest portion of the Dedicated Student Activity Fee goes to 16 teams and 350 student athletes on campus. Keep in mind that athletes represent only about 3 percent of the students at the University of Idaho.
As a student who isn”t interested in sports, I find it hard to justify athletics as the top priority for student activity fees. I want to know how administrators quantified the worth of athletics over campus services and facilities that benefit a far greater number of students. Why does an extracurricular activity with no academic value receive more funding than services that support students” academic careers?
I am by no means demanding that Intercollegiate Athletics receives no funding from student fees. Instead, I suggest that only students who participate in athletics, either as players or spectators, fund them.
For a moment, consider the students like myself, who never attend a single sporting event in their time at UI. Every semester, these students essentially pay for services they don”t use. Though this statement probably applies to many of the programs funded under the Dedicated Student Activity Fee, athletics warrants special scrutiny for its aforementioned disproportionate funding.
In an age where most students struggle with an astronomical amount of debt, the idea of charging students for an unused service strikes a nerve.
No student deserves to pay fees beyond what is necessary for their individual education. Students should only have to pay for the services they choose to use while at UI.
ASUI President Max Cowan”s advocacy of publishing the breakdown of the Dedicated Student Activity Fee deserves much praise. UI”s student body has every right to the information about how administrators distribute their funds.
I wonder what lies next in this progression of events. Will student responses change the way administrators disperse funds from this fee in the future? I hope so.
I hope this act of transparency and accountability serves as a model for UI in the coming years. If administrators disproportionately distribute funds from a mere $550.75 per semester fee, what are they doing with the rest of the thousands of dollars charged to students as part of their tuition and fees?
Students need to demand more breakdowns of how their tuition and fees fund budget items around campus. Administrators need to ensure that such information is easily accessible to all current and potential students.
Funds should be prioritized for programs that benefit the largest amount of students. Administrators need to be held accountable to the students they serve, particularly when it involves student accounts. After all, we are the reason UI exists in the first place.
Nicole Moeckli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org