The University will post the breakdown of the new Student Life Fee online by the time parents receive their next tuition bill, a move made in response to concerns from Student Government (SG) that the decision to consolidate the existing Student Health, Activities, and Lab fees into a single fee will diminish University transparency.
SG voiced their concerns to Kimberly Goff-Crews, vice president of student life, at a quarterly meeting May 13. After the meeting, administrators, while upholding their decision, resolved to include information online on the consolidated fee and its breakdown to ensure transparency.
“[University administrators] have decided to add information on those Web sites where we believe most students and their families visit for information on tuition and fees,” Goff-Crews wrote in an e-mail to SG members.
The administration chose to consolidate the fees to mollify parents who complained they were getting “nickel-and-dimed,” Goff-Crews said. Some SG representatives were originally concerned that the administration’s argument to consolidate the fees was an excuse to allow future reallocation of funds without accountability.
“Given their action on it...that [now] looks like that’s not the case,” SG President and fourth-year Matt Kennedy said. “I think they found a way to at least allay concerns that the new fee was an effort to keep anything away from students with the allocation of the committee fee.”
However, Kennedy was still disappointed that the administration did not completely reverse the decision and choose to continue listing the fees individually. The decision, he said, “is not what SG wanted—but it’s not unreasonable.”
Mark Redmond, a second-year College Council (CC) representative, said that some concerns remain. “We’re assuming a lot of [parental] technological know-how by only posting information online,” he said, arguing that some parents might get lost in the multitude of University websites. “It may be posted online and be a transparent process,” he said, “but it would obviously be more readily accessible if it was on the bill.”
While Vice President for Student Affairs Touissant Losier voiced frustration with his past experiences with the administration, he said that significant progress has been made over the course of the year. “The relationship between SG and administrators seemed to have improved a great deal,” he said. “Progress seemed particularly evident during winter, when we met together to minimize the impact of budget cuts on the quality of campus life.”
Losier hoped Goff-Crews would follow through on the commitment to work with SG. “I think administrators need to figure out if they want to, as Goff-Crews wrote in her e-mail to SG last week, work ‘in partnership [with SG] to address issues of concern to students,’ even if these are issues they might currently consider as their sole responsibility,” he said.
Redmond said that while he believed administrators act in good faith when dealing with SG, “student opinion can and should be gauged more seriously and more often than it has been.”
Kennedy said SG’s current relationship with University administrators “is at a high water mark,” but hoped it would continue to improve. He said the greater problem stemmed not from disagreement over specific issues, but from hesitancy on the University’s part to share and discuss information with SG. “It’s a consistent problem that sometimes you might have to dig a little harder than you want to find the information that you’re looking for,” he said.