47% fee hike peeves UA students

2011-04-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:06:42Z 47% fee hike peeves UA studentsBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 01, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A proposal to increase mandatory fees at the University of Arizona to more than $900 next year has students demanding more say in how the prices are set and how the money is spent.

Fees have tripled in three years.

Fees are a stable and dedicated source of funding for certain programs, administrators say.

Students, tired of the steep hikes in fees, surveyed themselves to collect data to back their argument for lower fees and more transparency.

"We want to know: What's the long-term plan to stop having to come back to students every year and ask for more money?" said grad-student president Emily Connally.

The UA's proposal to raise fees 47 percent next year includes a $125 increase in the technology fee and a $150 hike in the health and recreation fee.

Robert Shelton, UA president, said this plan is part of a two-phase increase that began this year.

The Arizona Board of Regents will vote on tuition and fee increases Thursday.

Student president Emily Fritze countered with a proposal she says is a better deal for students: a $95 increase in the technology fee, an $86 hike in the health and recreation fee, and the ability to earmark funds for priority programs.

"Students are very adamant that they want to minimize these increases," Fritze said. "They want to restrict fees that they don't think are necessary, and at the same time it's also a reaction to a continued year-after-year increase."

The Graduate and Professional Student Council rejected fee plans that didn't detail how the money would be spent or didn't include student input.

"The fee total for next year is equivalent to 1.5 paychecks for the average graduate student - payable before our first paycheck," Connally said at the regents' tuition hearing on Monday.

There is apparently little student support for the technology fee increase, but UA chief information officer Michele Norin says it's needed to ensure that services such as computer labs and a help desk aren't victims of budget cuts.

The fee also would be used to increase the number of online classes and to buy more projectors for classrooms, she said.

The fee raised about $5 million this year, about an eighth of the total information technology budget.

A student advisory board for the fee didn't see the proposed increase before it was made public and didn't get a say. Norin, however, said her plan was based on that board's earlier student survey about priorities for spending on tech projects.

Grad students rejected the fee. The Associated Students of the University of Arizona wants a smaller fee increase, with all of the new revenue going to classroom technology upgrades instead of other uses Norin has proposed.

The plan to increase the health and recreation fee has mixed support.

The student advisory board for the fee approved the increase, grad students rejected it, and ASUA wants a smaller fee with an option to get a refund if you don't use the center.

About 63 percent of students use the rec center and about half of students use the Campus Health Service, said Kris Kreutz, a director at Campus Health.

Student fees raise about $2 million for the campus recreation budget, accounting for about a quarter of the center's budget, and about $2 million for the health center, for about 20 percent of the Campus Health Service budget.

Connally said many students "are concerned with the equivalent of a mandatory gym membership required to pursue their studies."

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 807-8012.

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