Keep student fees mandatory for all
All of a sudden, it seems that it has become a crime for schools to provide their students with entertainment. Following the public outrage over Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, many people — students, alumni and people completely unaffiliated with the school — have been decrying the University's use of student fees to fund events that are not strictly academic in nature. The latest blow comes from Sen. Joseph Kyrillos Jr., R-Monmouth/Middlesex, who is proposing a bill that would make it so that students must opt in to paying student fees. Kyrillos' sweeping legislature would fundamentally alter the way student organizations and events operate on campus for the worse. We fear that, in proposing this legislature, Kyrillos failed to take the proper steps to fully understand just what student fees are used for. Contrary to his belief, they don't all go to booking "degenerate reality television star[s]."
The problem with implementing an opt-in system is that it will inevitably lead to a large amount of students choosing to decline to pay these fees. We understand the desire to save money, especially given today's economic climate and the high cost of college tuition, but the act of saving this money would have some serious negative repercussions on student life. People who opt out may not be aware that these student fees go to giving students the opportunity to participate in a rich, enjoyable college experience. Without student fees, the school would not be able to provide all of the events, activities and clubs it currently provides to students. This would obviously make for a far less fulfilling college experience. We believe that no student really wants that to happen — the problem is they may not know that this could be the outcome of optional student fees.
The other problem, as Ana Castillo, the president of the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), points out is "What happens if [students] didn't pay their student fees and wanted to attend the event? What do we do then?" Of course this will happen. Students will think they beat the system by opting out of student fees but then attending events and joining clubs funded by other students' fees anyway. This is unfair to all of the students who do decide to fund student life with their hard-earned tuition money. There seems to be no logical or practical way to keep students who didn't pay from taking advantage of what other students did pay for.
We believe that RUPA and the University have been unfairly painted as villains throughout this entire process. There's nothing wrong with wanting to provide students with clubs, events and activities that don't serve a purely academic purpose. Students who come to the University usually spend four years of their lives living on the banks of the Raritan — those years should be enjoyable.