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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

The ‘Student’ Facilities Fee: Fundamentally Flawed

Safeguard Old State continues its coverage of the impending tax the administrators at Penn State are brazenly seeking to impose upon the student body. The Student Facilities Fee would tax students an additional $200 for the next academic year, and increase each year thereafter.

Over 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 community have a chance to raise their eyebrows.

Today, I’m going to explain how, by imposing this tax, Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs will actually be sidestepping the student government in the UPUA and imposing the Student Facilities Fee through the Student Activity Fee Board (SAFB), thereby ruling on a matter outside their jurisdiction and illegitimately taxing students.

Allow me to explain. The Student Activities Fee Board was created to control, manage and distribute the $68 per semester Student Activity Fee that was imposing in the mid-1990s. Vice President for Student Affairs Gail Hurley and the administration are seeking to propose and create the Student Facilities Fee through the Student Activity Fee Board, despite the fact that the SAFB has no jurisdiction on any matter other than the Student Activity Fee.

In other words, the SAFB isn’t allowed to create new fees. It exists for the sole purpose of administering the Student Activity Fee. Whether or not the Student Facilities Fee is created through the SAFB, though, the tax will nonetheless be wholly illegitimate, in that the administration conceived, created and imposing a new “student” tax without the support of the students at Penn State.

If yesterday’s Rally in the Rotunda should have taught the administration anything, it’s that students are sick and tired of paying more and more every year for the same education. We haven’t asked to pay another fee, and if put to a vote, the numbers would underscore this point.

We don’t want a new “facilities” fee — it’s the job of the administration to budget for new building projects along with everything else in the annual budget, and if they really need the extra $8 million or so that the facilities fee will bring in, maybe it’s time to do “more with less”, a value which Vice President for Public Relations Bill Mahon has thrown his weight behind.

If the administration is really so desperate for that extra $8 million per year — despite a total annual operating budget of nearly $4 billion — then it’s time to cut a few dozen of the nearly 4,000 administrative jobs that have been added just in the past six years.

Here’s the point: the administration isn’t going to put this to a campus-wide referendum, because they know the students will vote this new fee down overwhelmingly if asked for their opinion. Yet, if these new recreational facility expansions are only being considered because of supposed student desire, why wouldn’t the administration at least want to double-check that students themselves also desire an extra $200+ per year tax?

All we’re asking for at Safeguard Old State is that the administration do the right thing and permanently shelve this fee. It’s unwise fiscally and it’s not even within their jurisdiction in the first place.

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[…] concerned, this is about as likely as reason for the super-fast nature of this fee as the potential reasons we’ve outlined in recent posts on the […]

one would think getting a lawyer might be wise.

[…] at Safeguard Old State April 4 – Reader Response: Thoughts on the Student Facilities Fee April 3 – The ‘Student’ Facilities Fee: Fundamentally Flawed March 31 – The Student Facilities Fee: Why It’s Happening So Fast March 26 – Right On: Penn […]

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