Students should pay for their services with new fee

By Ellis Cross

March 19, 2012

The proposed student fee could be a blessing for Missouri Western’s administration if it’s large enough to make a difference. There have been three years of deep cuts in the state appropriations to Western. The lack of funds has put everything under strain and the stress is beginning to show.

Students have stood helpless as class sizes grow with increased enrollment and fewer instructors to cover subjects in a timely fashion to facilitate graduation. The frustration of some students has pushed them toward other campuses to complete their degree.

Timely maintenance of buildings and grounds along with expansion opportunities of the campus have been set aside. The administration has had to cut back on employees in every department. Key, long-term people are not being replaced. Quality student services have been somewhat steady so far but can’t be sustained at the present level.

It is time for students to start paying more. The administration’s hands are tied by Senate Bill 389, which prohibits tuition increases based on increased costs. The application of higher student fees is the only way to keep the quality of Western’s education and experience high.

If administration could have, they would have increased tuition several times in the last decade. They also missed opportunities in the past to increase tuition in accord with senate bill 389, but they opted to keep tuition low. With increasing costs of uncontrollable things such as insurance and utilities Western’s budget is in trouble.

When students are asked to pay an additional fee it should go for student services only. Students will probably go along with the idea and vote to support their own services. Those services are located on the second floor of Blum and include SGA, student engagement, diversity, healthcare, and many other areas of student life.

The Vice President of Financial Planning, Mel Klinkner reported the administration cost for those services other than SGA is about the same as the state’s last budget cut of $1.9 million. To cover the cost of student services students would need to pay an additional $175.00 per semester. If administration increased tuition when they could have students would be paying more of a tuition increase than this.

It makes since to pay for our own services and also have more control over student services. SGA could have control over the budget to cover the second floor of Blum and administration could get back one of the years of state appropriations cuts. The student fees would only freeze the campus budget where it was last year.

We will never have administration this motivated to cooperate with us again. We need to collect the fees and take control of our own services and have a greater voice on campus to hire and fire those who serve us and advise us.

There would be a power struggle to negotiate between administration and the SGA. The students probably wouldn’t get complete control to hire or fire state employees but we could have a greater voice with a vote from the senate of confidence or no confidence of each employee each time the SGA administration changes.

We would be giving the SGA president and senators more power and control over student services. Their budget could go from half a million to nearly $2.5 million overnight. What better way to prepare these leaders of tomorrow? Give them real world problems along with the people and finances to solve them.