Our View: Students shouldn’t pay for what they don’t use

DKS Editors

The plan was to borrow $210 million in low-interest bonds and pin on a $7-per-credit-hour fee to students’ tuition starting in 2012. That fee would increase to $24 per credit hour by 2017. President Lester Lefton and the Board of Trustees had hoped that former chancellor Eric Fingerhut would approve bonds for university-wide renovations by November 2010 in order to qualify for low-interest Build America Bonds, and the slack would be picked up by student fees.

Fingerhut objected and said it was partly because students paying the fees may never see the renovations. Now that the deadline for approval has passed and a new chancellor has been appointed, Kent State students could find themselves paying an even higher fee.

Lefton told the Stater that a new proposal would be the same, but it would be pushed back one year.

“There is no student here currently that will be paying the new fee,” Lefton said in a story. “The fee will start up in a couple years. But the students will also get to benefit from some of the new facilities before they graduate.”

Emily Vincent wrote in an e-mail that students wouldn’t have to pay in fiscal year 2012, but would begin paying the fee at a reduced amount in 2013. “As the renovation program nears completion, the larger fee amount would be charged,” she wrote.

To Chancellor James Petro, we need these renovations to be competitive. Students should have top facilities, but only under the premise that no student will pay fees unless he or she will be around to see the benefits of them. Regardless of how much the “reduced amount” is, it’s unfair to burden students with fees that will not be advantageous to them.

There is no doubt about it — the university is in need of some renovations. Needed maintenance on campus has been pushed to the back burner for years. Buildings like Bowman and Satterfield Halls, the science labs, the architecture building and the Art Building are outdated and in serious need of improvements.

Campus renovations at other universities are customarily paid for by tuition alone, but Lefton said because tuition is already lower than other Ohio universities, the special fees are needed for a renovation of this scale. Fees at other universities are typically used for auxiliary purposes like football stadiums or student unions, but using these fees to update academic buildings is necessary.

These changes need to be made, but not if they are paid for by students who won’t reap the benefits of them.