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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents to rule on tech fee hike

    The Arizona Board of Regents will decide the fate of a $65 technology fee increase at tomorrow’s meeting, but a group of students have come together to protest the fee increase.

    Members of a student group, Students Against the Tech Fee Increase, are circulating a petition against the $65 increase of the information technology/library fee, which could total $130 per year with the regents’ approval.

    “”This is setting a dangerous precedent. They have gone forward with a proposal without student votes, focus studies or shared governance. If this continues to happen there may not be a student voice in future initiatives.””

    – Steven Gerner,
    political science senior who opposes the technology fee increase

    “”We are concerned about the structure and implementation of the tech fee increase,”” said Samantha Kerr, an ASUA senator and one of the student coordinators of the campaign.

    From the current $65 fee, $50 goes toward installing and maintaining the wireless system on campus, while the remaining $15 goes to the library, said Kerr, a pre-health education junior.

    Students campaigning against the increase protest the way the fee would be structured and implemented if it passes.

    “”We might need a tech fee, no doubt about it, but what this proposal does is ignores the studentan ASUA senator and student coordinator for the campaign. “”There were no referendums, no votes. The fee doesn’t assess the students’ needs.””

    Warren Karberg, a pre-business senior, said he doesn’t think student fees should pay for wireless internet, which should be free.

    “”They already charge us for everything else, and some people don’t even have laptops,”” Karberg said.

    But Sally Jackson, vice president for learning and information technologies and chief information officer, said the fee is necessary to complete campuswide wireless implementation.

    “”It is difficult to get the timing right, but now is the time when wireless is needed,”” Jackson said. “”We have half of the campus finished right now, and to stop half-done is the worse thing to do… We should’ve had more students’ input, but sometimes counting votes can’t really tell you when wireless is needed, and it isn’t a good reason not to approve the fee.””

    A student advisory board would be created at the start of the next semester that will work within the Office of Student Computing Resources to allocate where the money will go, Jackson said.

    It is unclear how the money will be spent after the wireless initiative is completed.

    “”This is an indefinite fee, and there is no plan for the future,”” Kerr said. “”We will still be paying $130, but we’re not sure where it will go.””

    But Jackson said there is a place for the money once the wireless initiative is completed.

    “”The fee will be diverted to other uses such as building more labs, creating more tech help desks and other things,”” Jackson said. “”Committing all the money to wireless is a small part of all the resources that go back to the students.””

    The idea that students were not entirely involved in the process of whether or not the fee should be passed still reverberates among those opposing the fee increase.

    “”This is setting a dangerous precedent,”” said Gerner, a political science senior. “”They have gone forward with a proposal without student votes, focus studies or shared governance. If this continues to happen, there may not be a student voice in future initiatives.””

    Though still opposed to the fee, the coordinators of Students Against the Tech Fee Increase acknowledge the positive aspects of the fee should it pass.

    “”Wireless development will continue faster in more buildings, and students will have a voice and a say as to where the money will go,”” Kerr said.

    Along with the increased tech fee, the UA libraries will also share the increase in funds from the original $15 to $30.

    Gerner and Kerr said they are not opposed to the idea of more money going to the libraries.

    According to the Library Fee Increase Proposal, should the tech fee increase pass, the libraries will buy more electronic books so students can access them online, look at extending the library building hours and consider a redesign of the library Web site, among other options.

    Since the fee was implemented, the library has used the $250,000 received from the fee to improve upon student services. Possibilities include expanding the Laptop Loan program by adding 36 more computers, installing presentation preparation rooms to allow students a chance to practice class presentations and implementing free delivery of requested articles held by the UA libraries collection, according to a review done by the UA libraries.

    “”The library has a clear plan, a justified case, and is targeted at student services,”” Gerner said.

    The regents will be voting on tuition and fees at tomorrow’s meeting in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center.

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