This article was written by a reader and submitted as a letter to the editor.
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If offered a choice between 500 dollars today and 1 million dollars a month from now I think most people would choose the million and walk away before the individual offering had a chance to change their mind.
That is why it has been baffling to me to see the success of a petition at UCF and a movement at Universities around the country to refund their summer fees such as Activity and Service Fees, Parking and Transportation Fees, Athletics Fees, etc.
The entire notion behind this, as stated in the petition at UCF created by Adriana McCabe, is that “[students] aren’t allowed on campus and thus can’t use several resources UCF is still charging us for.”
While on the surface this argument makes sense, and the money certainly would benefit students going through an “an economic crisis,” as the aforementioned petition indicates, a refund to students would be a very short-sighted move that would create numerous economic shortfalls for the University and would cause detriments to the services students utilize without even realizing, or resources that will provide the return to normal many students hope for in the coming months.
The main fee areas cited in the petition were Activity and Service (A&SF), Parking, Athletics, Technology, Capital Improvements, and ID Service. Speaking from my experience on numerous fee committees at the University, a large portion of this money goes towards paying student employees at the Student Union, RWC, health center and CAPS front desk workers, etc.
This money also goes towards putting on events that may otherwise need to be cancelled in the event that millions of dollars are lost over the summer.
Parking and Transportation has already given up their fee for the summer, due to the decrease in costs of not having to operate shuttles. However, losing any further fees would force parking to default on the loans for parking garages, which would turn the situation for parking on campus even more dire.
Athletics has budgeted their student fees to be used on payment for staff, meaning that a total refund in the athletics fee would result in millions of dollars in staff needing to be laid off, potentially as high as coaching staff of sports such as football and basketball.
A refund in the technology fee would cause the cancellation of 10 improvement projects around campus including improvements to campus Wi-Fi and technology improvements to classrooms such as those in MSB, where students are in constant complaint at the dilapidated classrooms, and ancient technology.
The bottom line is that these fee reductions would result in students losing out on vital resources if and when classes resume.
While students surely have an interest in seeing the results of their fees, rest assured they will and they do see those fees every day whether they know it or not, and a return to “normal” rests on the idea that these fees can be utilized when students return to campus in the Fall, which will not be reality if UCF seeks to simply appease the masses in this survey.
The impact of a couple hundred-dollar refund could cost students thousands in lost wages, cancelled events, and lost benefits to campus.
I don’t want this to be interpreted as me taking the side of not wanting my peers to stand up for themselves. On the contrary, I’m inspired by their desires to stand up and advocate. However, I don’t want them to take the quick windfall on this and think only of the short-term effects.
This money is largely an investment in their future experiences and the future of the university.
I hope that they continue their passion and get involved in organizations like Student Government that are largely mocked for their ivory tower mentality and perceived sense of elitism but ultimately hold a lot of power to how student’s investments are spent.
Even if it’s not directly holding a position in Student Government, there are committees that allocate the entire A&SF budget, allocate scholarships to students, allocate tech fee monies, raise and lower student fees, and many more that Student Government is begging to have students participate in where these individuals can use their voice to make sure that they see the fruits of their tuition dollars.
However, it would be entirely too detrimental and harmful to allow these funds to be eliminated and I urge UCF and other institutions to stay strong and protect these budgets for the overall betterment of the University.