Six years ago, our Penn State student activity fee was $52. Fast forward to 2012, we’re now paying $33 more for a total of $85 each semester.
The student activity fee, instituted in 1996, started out at $25 as a way to coordinate funding for campus organizations, according to the Student Activity Fee Handbook. Obviously, Penn State has grown in the past 16 years. Because of this, it isn’t out of the ordinary for an increase in these costs.
In 10 years, the cost only increased by $27. But somehow the last six years have seen a spike in activity fees — and it only seems to be increasing.
At a recent University Park Allocation Committee meeting, it was determined by the Student Activity Fee Board that the fee may increase another $2 to “keep up with consumer price index increase,” according to the UPAC Chairman Jesse Scott. While some adjustment seems understandable, we have to wonder whether such a steep increase in a short period of time is necessary — and when such increases will end.
These fees go to a plethora of organizations and efforts around the community.
This student activity fee is a worthy idea at some level because it makes activities on campus more affordable and available.
Some students could potentially be deterred if on-campus offerings like the fitness centers or concerts — which these funds have gone to in the past — were more expensive and cost prohibitive.
But, there still needs to be more transparency within UPAC and the Student Activity Fee Board for students to see what their fees are legitimately going toward.
And, with an increase, this means a tuition increase. Last year, former UPUA President TJ Bard opposed an increase, explaining that there aren’t many times things that students are allowed to vote on that will raise or lower tuition.
This fee is one of them. UPAC and the Student Activity Fee Board should open themselves up to holding a forum for discussion for the student body to help decide where these funds go. More public comment could allow for more recommendations by students — the constituents who are funding this fee as well as benefiting from it.
UPAC and the Student Activity Fee Board should be disclosing as specifically as possible where all the money is going that they say could spark the potential $2 rise in fees. And if students don’t want an increase, they should make sure their voices are heard.
Go to UPAC representatives or Student Activity Fee Board meetings and state your case.
It’s your money at stake — might as well have a say in it.