Student Fees: A Discussion

Fees – all of our colleges and universities require them, although our institutions identify and allocate them differently. Regardless, our students all must pay these mandatory fees as matriculated college students.

As recently reported via a plethora of New Jersey news outlets, NJ state Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) has proposed introducing legislation that would remove the mandatory activity fee and instead provide students with the choice to opt-in to paying fees for student activities.

Senator Kyrillos is using an entertainment lecture held at Rutgers University, featuring a “Jersey Shore” cast member, as his one example as to why students should decide if they would like to pay the activity fee or not. In my own opinion, I’m unsure if Senator Kyrillos is aware that this program was planned by students, for students, after receiving student input, however, his proposed legislation supports his idea that the percentage of students who did not want to attend this lecture should not have had to pay for it.

Let’s face it, not every program held on a college campus is going to appeal to every student all the time. There is just no way that our campuses could possibly host events that 100% of the members of our diverse student communities are all interested in attending. Isn’t it part of the beauty of higher education, that we always have a unique opportunity to teach us about something we have never learned about, or possibly an opportunity to meet or see a public figure we may find amusing or maybe even appalling?

Let’s take a moment to compare this activities fee discussion to that of the cost of college tuition. It may or may not be obvious that some of the courses offered on our campuses cost more than others for our students to take. Whether a student is enrolled in a science class with a lab requirement, an art class, or a math course, our students are all paying the same for tuition. That being said, should we also be asking our students to opt-in to paying for their coursework based on the same principles Kyrillos is applying to student activities?

Michelle L. Brisson
mbrisson@drew.edu

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