University inflicting fees through fiat

In the end, the University will have a stadium. But will it be worth it?

It is a foregone conclusion that the University will build an on-campus stadium, pending funding by the state legislature. A resolution passed last week by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly brings to light the hefty burden the University intends to impose upon the student body, through a mandatory fee of $50 a semester.

For each student to pay $100 a year sounds daunting enough, but consider this in a historic light. Students have increasingly borne the load for every conceivable project on campus and it is getting worse. When I started as an undergraduate at the University in 1995, the total collected student services fees, which students control, totaled about $14 million. Today, these fees stand in excess of $21 million, with the renovation of Coffman Union in 2000 adding more than $100 a year, per student by itself. The University has found other ways to add fees to our attendance, through various administrative fees. The mild $12.50 transportation fee imposed in 2001 hardly compares with the technology fees enacted in the late 1990s. The so-called “University Fee” started in 2002, was assessed at $75 a semester per student, then increased to $150 in 2003. Now the University pockets $450 a semester which pays for “portions of the University Libraries, Classroom Management, Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Finance, and Office of Admissions,” according to One Stop. You can add “football stadium” to that description.

Fees have increased four-fold since 1995. Gov. Tim Pawlenty knows. The University administration can inflict fees through fiat and they will; the student body has shown little ability to mobilize over double-digit increases in tuition. But it can be argued that tuition and most other fees go toward education. We’ll have an on-campus stadium, and I agree that it will improve campus. Will it be worth such a cost to students? It costs more than the Coffman Union renovation, but students use Coffman Union multiple times, certainly more than six football games each fall. The fee each student will pay can almost buy two season tickets to the Metrodome. I am sure once the new stadium is built they will jack up the ticket prices too.

Jesse Berglund is a University Law student. Please send comments to [email protected].