Consensus: Fee Transparency

This week, the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee released their recommendations for increases to student fees for the following year, and while the recommendations of the committee are spot on, some of the fees they had to consider are worrisome.

The lack of accountability shown by the Athletic Association (AA) of the proposed increases to the Student Athletic Fee is the main concern. Whereas other departments laid out exactly where the additional revenue will go, the AA gave no information on where they planned to apply the funds from their requested $10-per-year increase. Given the fluctuating costs (particularly in recruiting) and revenues (from ticket sales and merchandise) inherent in sports, it is understandable that it is difficult to make exact statements about their finances, but they should still be able to say specifically how the increase will benefit students or give specifics as to why it is necessary.

This would not be a major issue had it not arisen before. Last year, the AA attempted to do the same: a fee increase without any context for the spending, and threats that a larger fee would be necessary if they did not get funding soon. This cannot continue indefinitely, and the issue must be resolved.

What really needs to happen is for MSFAC to draw up rules about what costs departments can expect students to pay for through fees. Ideally, such guidelines would force the AA to communicate what concrete things it needs students to pay for to exist in its current state. They argue that students are not the only recipients of their spending, but if this is the case, students should not be the main source of their discretionary spending. The AA should be able to depend on students to keep the lights on, but it is their responsibility to find the funding to grow their programs through other sources of revenue.