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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Moving goalposts: UA admin should raise tuition, not fees”

    You might have breathed a sigh of relief when the Arizona Board of Regents approved a lower-than-expected tuition increase last semester. But if the UA administration has its way, you’ll still be paying an extra $50 in fees next semester.

    Today, the board of regents will consider an increase to the UA’s library technology fee. Students are currently assessed a $65 fee to fund the UA’s wireless network as well as digital learning environments and computer labs. If approved, the fee will increase to $115 and would be effective in Fall 2007.

    As with most fee increases, the tech fee proposal has caused little controversy beyond the quarters of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Graduate and Professional Student Council, mostly because students pay more attention to tuition increases than fee increases.

    That’s unfortunate, especially considering the fact that students have worked to offer an alternative tech fee proposal of $36 to the board of regents.

    Unfortunately, UA President Robert Shelton will be going ahead with his proposal for a $50 increase, though negotiations with ASUA Sen. Steven Gerner, ASUA President Erin Hertzog and GPSC President Paul Thorn convinced him to lower it from his original $65 proposal.

    If the student survey completed early this semester is any indication, the UA’s WiFi network enjoys broad student support. In an ASUA-sponsored survey of more than 5,000 UA students, networking and Internet access came in as the No. 1 priority, and survey results indicated that classroom technology is in dire need of improvement as well.

    Thus, we support the tech fee in either form (a difference of $14 won’t break the bank), but the very notion of a tech fee increase points to a broader issue that should worry students: Mandatory fees are being used as substitutes for tuition increases.

    Money’s tight here at the UA, we know, but the proliferation of mandatory fees (for the Student Recreation Center, for the Arizona Financial Aid Trust) seems to be taking the place of a much simpler revenue raiser – tuition increases.

    Whatever the reasons for this development, the consequences seem pretty obvious: Fee increases go unnoticed by students until they have to pay the bills, at which time it’s too late to organize any sort of opposition to the fee.

    Currently, there’s no real effort on the administration’s part to ensure that students are informed about imminent fee increases. For that reason, we propose a rather radical solution: increase tuition, not fees.

    If the university insists on passing improvement costs on to students, it should at least do so in a way that is more transparent. Fee increases go relatively unnoticed by the student population (until it’s too late), but tuition increases are subject to much higher student and administration scrutiny.

    With the onslaught of mandatory fees in recent years, the administration has been moving the monetary goalposts by proposing multiple new fees instead of simply raising tuition, but it’s time to simplify the process by folding mandatory fees into the easiest fee to understand – tuition.

    Opinions Board
    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Damion LeeNatali, Stan Molever, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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