Choose your own involvement — With the current student fee system, there’s no way I can get my money’s worth

I would consider myself mildly involved with the University of Idaho campus.

I could probably attend more events and take advantage of more on-campus opportunities, but I also have to prioritize my time — and sometimes I just don’t have time to goof off. This is college after all, and I need to study and gain relevant work experience.

Social development is a cornerstone of growing up, and a big reason people should attend college. However, I’m a little concerned with the cost of the social aspects of college.

Being on a college campus means having a front-row seat to speakers, concerts and other events — usually for free. But it’s not free and I’m not sure I want my student fees paying for events I don’t even attend.

Student fees cover a large variety of programs across campus, most of which directly benefit students, so it makes sense my fees cover costs for things like Violence Prevention Programs, which reduce sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and domestic violence among students and student centers like the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Native American Student Center. These offices and programs are important for the health and safety of specific populations and the entire campus. These are programs student fees should support, because in the end, they help students become better citizens and students.

Because students pay operational-type fees on many of the facilities on-campus, there are lower or no rates involved with using the facilities. This makes sense, as using the campus is main idea of being physically at a college.

I don’t have a problem with these essential and educational-based costs. I’m happy to support programs that benefit my peers, even if it doesn’t benefit me. Having educated, mentally fit peers is a great thing when it comes to group discussions and projects, not to mention that being around cool, well-rounded and smart people is a neat thing.

The problem is, I’m paying for events I’m not interested, would never go to or simply can’t — kind of like buying tickets to concerts and then never actually going.

For example, there are usually a whole slew of events hosted on Thursday nights. Up until this semester, I had obligations on Thursdays, meaning I did not attend a single one of those events in two semesters. Yet, I’m paying for a service I’m not receiving.

Imagine paying for guacamole and then not getting any. That $2 for guacamole you didn’t get doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but when you look back at the semester and all the times you didn’t get guac when you paid for, it really ads up.

As tuition increases this next year, I think it’s time the university looks at ridding these extra fees from the expected costs students must pay.

I know students who are as involved as they possibly can be and I know students who go to class and then leave campus and don’t come back until their next class. Every student’s college experience is what they want it to be, because everyone needs something different. Some students need academic support, some need emotional support, some want to attend social events and some just want to learn and interact with people from their major. Many students have jobs in between and after classes, preventing them from taking advantage of events.

But no one could possibly go to everything. No one is interested in every single event. Sometimes there are multiple events in one day, with overlapping times. So even if I went on a mission to attend every university event, I physically couldn’t, unless Hermoine Granger loaned me her time turner. And this is assuming I don’t have class, work and self-care obligations to tend to that day.

Naturally, the argument is, if students pay upfront to go to these events, then they should actually go to them and take advantage of it. But the thing is, if a student doesn’t like rap music, they would not have wanted to go to Finals Fest — for the past several years.

After attending this year’s Finals Fest, I’m really not OK having my student fees going to an on-campus party where there is hardly any security and everything smells of marijuana. There was very little opportunity to socialize or bond with my peers — I was too busy getting groped and squished. Right now, I have no intention of going to Finals Fest next year, but yet, I’ll be paying for it.

Universities should focus on experiences that educate and help students become better members of society. Students should either be paying a fee at the door for events, or have the option of choosing an involvement level upon registration. The packages could include a certain number of events, or none at all. Additional events would cost a fee. This gives everyone the option to tailor their experience to exactly what they need from college.

Experiences are great, but college means something different for everyone. As college grows expensive and student debt rises by the second, students need payment options that fit all needs and budgets. Changing how student fees are charged and what they cover could give students the unique ability to determine their experience at UI.

Tess Fox can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos


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