Original. Student reported. Your daily dose of Right-minded news and commentary from across the nation
562 percent increase in mandatory fee, portrayed as ‘inclusive,’ narrowly fails in student vote

Fuzzy math

It takes some serious cojones to portray a massive increase in mandatory student fees as both “reduced” and “inclusive.”

Yet that’s what supporters of a failed referendum argued at Washington State University, according to The Daily Evergreen.

The student government failed to reach the two-thirds majority required to put the referendum on the ballot. It would ask students to decide whether to replace a $40 “services and activities” fee with a $265 “student athletics” fee.

The referendum text says 11,212 optional sports passes were sold this academic year for $239 each. They let students attend as many athletic events as they want. (The text confusingly says those passes were sold to 16,240 undergraduates, with no explanation how it jibes with the 11,212 figure.)

If everyone were issued a sports pass for the proposed $265 consolidated fee in lieu of the $40 S&A fee, those who currently hold the pass would save $14 a year. About a quarter of WSU’s flagship student body who don’t buy the optional sports pass would be hit with a 562 percent increase.

Athletics revenue from sports passes would jump 60 percent to more than $4.3 million.

MORE: New Minn. law gives students a say in mandatory fees

Look at how this corporate welfare proposal was defended in Wednesday’s Associated Students of WSU meeting:

Sen. [James] Dalton said consolidating the fees students pay for athletics would lower how much students pay overall. He also said the fee would create a more inclusive environment, which would bring the campus  together.

“The fee allows students to get into it,” Dalton said, “[so] they have the extra money to spend to get the cool gear.” …

The athletics representatives said ticket sales, donors and concessions have raised their prices, and they’re only asking students to contribute to that growth.

In other words, students who don’t attend games are leeching off others?

MORE: ‘Socialistic society’ requires huge new mandatory fee

One particularly daft senator, Tyler Parchem, claimed the eight referendum opponents were denying students their voice by refusing to go along with the 11 supporters:

All Campus Sen. Gavin Pielow, who voted against the pass, said students already have options when it comes to their athletic fees.

“It’s not about giving the students a choice,” Sen. Pielow said, “because you know what, they already have a choice that’s called the optional sports pass.”

Senator Savannah Rogers reminded supporters that they wanted to force 5,000 students to pay an extra $225 for something they don’t use.

Supporters’ answer to this? By making the sports pass mandatory, “it would be included in tuition and fee estimates that financial aid covers.”

In other words, the cost to students – and the windfall for athletics – would be buried in ever-increasing tuition and financial aid packages.

Should we really be surprised that elected student leaders are using sports to justify their moves against financial transparency?

Read the article and the referendum.

MORE: U. of Maryland Title IX office budget doubles thanks to mandatory fee

IMAGE: Natan86/Shutterstock

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

Add to the Discussion