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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

No Clash: Student Groups United For Reform

In today’s article on the student facilities fee in The Daily Collegian, the article paints a picture that just isn’t true to life, which is fortunate for the student body. Safeguard Old State has been providing unparalleled coverage on the administration’s proposed student fee reorganization for expanding facility space, and the major student governing bodies are on the same page when it comes to execution of any new type of fee.

Groups Clash Over New Facility Charge (TDC) — When it comes to the potential facilities fee, the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) hasn’t done its homework, some members of the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG) have said.

The two groups, the largest representative bodies for undergraduates at the University Park and Commonwealth Campuses, respectively, passed conflicting resolutions last week on a potential $200-per-semester expansion of the student activity fee. The fees could foot the bill for facilities other than classroom, library and laboratory space.

From what I’ve seen and heard first-hand from UPUA President Gavin Keirans and CCSG President George Khoury, both governing bodies want to see a concrete plan of action for how the fee will be spent, and both groups want to see a definitive body of students controlling and regulating use of the fee.

The difference between UPUA and CCSG is that the latter seems willing to place near blind trust in the administration levying the new tax and then granting them control over it, while the UPUA has decided that, before the new tax is implemented, they want real assurances that the students will maintain total control over the fee and any new projects or increases. If any clash exists, it’s a clash in execution.

Keirans (sophomore-business administration) said one of UPUA’s major problems with the proposed fee is that University Park is not offered the option to choose to opt out of the fee or move to a lower price — an option offered to students at Commonwealth Campuses. Commonwealth Campuses can choose between semesterly fees of $50, $75 or $100, or can choose to waive the fee entirely. University Park has only one option of $100 per semester.

As we’ve said many times now at Safeguard Old State, the administration has a naughty tendency to tax and spend without student oversight or regulation…just “input”, which is not acceptable. Keirans is not being unreasonable to demand that University Park be allowed to opt-out at will.

UPUA chairman of the assembly Ralph Crivello said UPUA isn’t misinformed about the fee; rather, the organization hasn’t received a “written-down plan” from administrators regarding the fee.

“How can we agree to something that’s not written down on paper? It’s irresponsible for us to say ‘Yeah, go ahead and tax students $100 a semester,’ ” Crivello (junior-chemical engineering) said.

Crivello hits the nail on the head. I think it’s clear, especially after speaking with both groups, that there is not any genuine clash over the facilities fee. All students want to see better facilities, but are damned tired of seeing the administration control and levy the fees without our consent.

I’ve been publicly advocating that control of the Student Activity Fee (or the Student Activity & Facility Fee, potentially) be entirely handed over to a student decision making body that is allowed to present directly each May to the Penn State Trustees without administrative interference and without needing “approval” from President Spanier.

First, we’ll need the administration to present a clear plan for an expanded fee with cost estimates and projected time frames for facility completion to the three groups that should control the fee; the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG).

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