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The Student Body President

The Blog of the UPUA President


History Speaks: It’s More Than Just Another Fee

Since this facilities fee has been proposed, many have asked questions as to the need for it as well as for the student approval. Some may not see this as a major issue, only a hundred dollars. But at what point does it stop?

I became active in the discussions of the fee shortly after being elected as President of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA). Since that time I have been shown graphs, diagrams, reports and been told accounts of other students wanting these facilities.

But I am absolutely still not sold. After all, this is not the first fee — in fact, these “fees” date back to the 1950s. Take for instance the Student Union Fee, created by President Milton Eisenhower which charged students $7.50 a semester beginning in the early 1950s to pay for the Student Union Building. This fee was later rolled into tuition.

Take into account that a today’s dollar is equivalent to 12-13 cents in 1950, so about sixty two dollars a semester has been rolled into tuition.

Another fee that was created was a Student Activity Fee which helped pay for publication of The Daily Collegian as well as the operation of other student organizations. As of 1960 this fee was at $4.90. Accounting for the value of the dollar today it is equal to forty dollars and eighty three cents. That brings the fees to a grand total of $100.83.

All of this was subsequently rolled into general tuition funds. Then in the mid 1990s a new fee was created to fund student activities and the HUB-Robeson Center. This fee was not supposed to increase above the rate of inflation in any given year, nor was it supposed to fund any building project other than the HUB-Robeson Center.

Fast forward to the new University Health Center, which is being subsidized by our activity fee. So much for those principles. Count in the Information Technology (IT) fee, which is well over $200 per semester and then count the current recreation fee if you want to use the gyms or pools.

At what point do the fee changes and increases end? Who is to say that these new fees won’t be rolled into tuition? Stop taxing us. The excuse that other schools have higher fees is erroneous because their respective tuition costs are a small portion of what we pay at Penn State.

What gets me is that the administration at Penn State may use these fees more and more and raise tuition less and less. Thus we can shed the tag of the most expensive public university in the country all the while still nickle and diming students left and right.

I love being a Penn State student and luckily for me I have the financial stability to attend. Not all of us do, though, and at what point do we recognize that we are a land-grant institution?

We recently heard a CCSG Presidential Candidate talk about how he had to take a year off from Penn State because he couldn’t afford the financial burden. Here is a prospering student leader who was turned away because of the escalating costs.

Part of me thinks I am writing this to myself, because the UPUA has already spoken up loudly on this issue, yet I have a strong hunch that we will be cast aside because, after all, “we’re just students.”

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