Many students who are enrolled in the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities are unhappy with being forced to pay annual activity fees, according to a recent article by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
The article states that for most of the PASSHE universities, these fees are being put toward clubs and organizations that many students are not a part of, or have never even heard of. Records from PASSHE show that activity fees range from $235 per year at Kutztown University, to $900 per year at Mansfield University. These fees are used to fund anything from small organizations to political speakers and fitness centers. Student activity fees have been a topic of argument for years. Lawsuits reaching as far as the Supreme Court have challenged whether these fees can fund political or religious groups, according to the article. Many students, especially those that rely on student loans and grants, are unhappy about the fees as they add more of a financial burden on top of tuition. At most colleges and universities, these fees are set by the respective president with consultation from student government organizations. This is the case at Slippery Rock University.
According to Cathy George, business manager for the Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SGA), the activity fee, which is referred to as the general service fee at SRU, is one of the lowest within the state system. According to a table provided by George, the general service fee at SRU was $328 per student for the 2011-2012 academic year. This is a $56 increase from the fee that was set four years ago at $272.
“The general service fee funds the day, evening, and weekend routes of the happy bus, as well as athletics, the University Program Board (UPB,) the radio station (WSRU,) SGA, the Black Action Society (BAS,) movie showings, and etcetera,” George said. “Also, $30 per year from each student’s general service fee goes to the Rec Center (ARC).
According to Josh Rodgers, vice president of financial affairs for SGA, the general service fee is set at 5.25 percent of tuition.
“Since the fee is set at a certain amount, every time tuition increases, so does the fee,” he said.
Unlike the students who were represented in the article, some students at SRU feel that the general service fee is a good idea.
Tony Scibilia, a junior history major, feels that the fee is put to good use.
“I think that the fee is kind of high, but it does fund SGA and the happy bus, which a lot of students use, so I feel that the fee is necessary,” he said.
Brian Benninger, a sophomore information technology major, who is a member of the WSRU radio station, feels that the fee is necessary for every student.
“Every student may not be part of every organization, but they have the opportunity to be,” he said. “I feel like paying the fee is a necessary part of being enrolled in the school.”