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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


The ‘Student Facilities Fee’: Undemocratic & Unnecessary

Safeguard Old State was first informed of a new administration-conceived tax on the student body on in early March, and have been able to obtain more information over the course of this week. I can speak for all of us when I say we’re pleased to see both the Centre Daily Times and The Daily Collegian (though a day late) covering this important issue that will affect all students.

The proposed Student Facilities Fee, which will be implemented as early as the Fall 2008 semester, with or without the consent of the student body — will tax each student at an unprecedented rate of $100 per semester and will be used in conjunction with the pre-existing Student Activity Fee to fund everything from student events to student office space and the administration’s desire to expand recreation space.

We in Safeguard Old State will be offering a running commentary on this atrocious and unjust tax on the student body, providing you, as always, with the devilish details that no one else is talking about.

#1. The Faulty Consultant Report — The administration at Penn State commissioned a consulting firm to come in and produce a report on student facility space about five years ago. We first were told about this report by Dr. Stan Latta in the Fall 2007 semester in a series of meetings to discuss the Safeguard Old State Roadmap for Change.

Safeguard Old State has obtained a copy of this consultant’s report and had it analyzed by a local Centre County data research firm. According to professionals who have seen the report, the sample size is of “questionable significance” and the numbers themselves are “not of a particularly convincing nature” that they would typically be used to justify widescale action, let alone as justification for a “Student Facilities Fee” that will create another unaccountable, non-transparent slush-fund of over $8 million per year for the administration to spend.

#2. Who Created the Student Facilities Fee? — The administration did. There’s nothing “Student” about it; none of our student representatives have had any opportunity for reasonable input on even whether the initial report or the idea for the fee should be floated in any channels, let alone slated for implementation as early as the Fall ’08 semester.

Either way, a general student wish for more space does not equate to student need, let alone the idea that students are somehow banging down the doors of Old Main begging to fork over an additional $200 per year for insanely wasteful administrators’ wishes, like a still-in-planning land bridge that would connect the White Building to the HUB-Robeson Center, for instance.

#3. “Either You Accept This As-Is, or It’ll Be Taken Anyway Through Tuition” — This is what some of the students in the UPUA have been told regarding the Student Facilities Fee. Is this how the administration thinks shared governance is supposed to work in a post-Triponey era? In other words, “damned by the student body if you accept this fee that we’re foisting on you without their consent, damned by the student body if you don’t accept it, because we’re foisting an even higher tuition increase on you.”

The administration actively causes more of the problems at Penn State, usually with good intentions, than “student apathy” negatively impacts student life. If anything, students are apathetic because they know that it’s only a matter of time under an administer imposes another restrictive or financially debilitating tax.

The Bottom Line — If students decide they want to pay this fee, then all the more power to the administration, as far as we’re concerned at Safeguard Old State. We’ll try to act surprised when the administration makes us pay this anyway, without even trying to parade student government support out for it, or asking for students to conduct a campus-wide referendum.

After all, even if a student referendum rejects this fee, they’ve already told us that they’ll just lump it in with tuition. President Spanier has set it up so that, either way, the students are the losers. It must be nice to play a rigged game.

No wonder student activists get so desperate as to play wiffle ball in Old Main. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

….it’s not always easy to Safeguard Old State.

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Note: The Safeguard Old State Executive Staff does not moderate the comments posted by the public to blog entries. The comments of Safeguard Old State readers do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Safeguard Old State.

Comments

We should get Andy Nagypal to write up a post about the history of the student activity fee, and the limitations that were origianlly placed on it. We talk a lot about collective memory here at SOS, this would be the perfect chance to put it into action.
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This is completely, unabashedly disgusting. There is no excuse nor reason for this fee to be enacted, just as there is no curse in any language strong enough to describe the treachery of our Administration towards the students who are paying far too much to come here.

I believe at this time, Penn State is ready for a “Clean sweep.” I believe every single one of these thieving rogues in Old Main should be ousted, immediately, without mercy, without regret, and their employment permanently terminated. From Graham Spanier to Billy “the mouth of Sauron” Mahon, From Stan Latta to Lisa “Spontaneous planning” Powers, these people have no right to taint the once pristine name of Dear Old State any longer. Far too long have they embezzled money out of the students and trampled upon us. Far too long have they lied through their teeth, calling this University student centered. Far too long have these twisted games been played to keep the students which this University is supposedly here for from being given their tuitions worth. Its time for them to go.

I love Penn State, and this CAN NOT be borne.

[…] the administration is basing their idea for the facilities fee on a flawed, questionable consultative report that was conducted in 2005. An anonymous local blogger at Left of Centre posted a well written […]

[…] the past two weeks, we’ve outlined why the Student Facilities Fee is both undemocratic and unnecessary, and why the administration is rushing to implement this new tax before the student body or […]

[…] is all of this important now, you ask? Well, that pesky “Student Facilities Fee” that the administration is trying to push down our throats will be coming to an initial vote […]

[…] we told you back in March that the sample size was of “questionable significance” and the numbers themselves are “not […]

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