On Campus

Raise fees!

Queen's University students propose added fee to boost operating budget

While most students are usually screaming and protesting about exorbitant tuition fees across the province in the annual Drop Fees campaign, two students at Queen’s University are trying the opposite approach.

Students Morgan Campbell and James Simpson a proposing a new $70 opt-outable fee to be paid by students to support services  like TAs, maintenance and teaching materials, the Queen’s Journal reported. The fee would have to be adopted via student referendum.

Campbell told the Journal: “The amount our tuition can increase each year does not keep up with the rising costs.” This may be true, as it is not just Queen’s University that is experiencing a shortage in funds projected for this year and next year’s  budget. According to the article Queen’s is looking at a projected $8.3 million deficit for their 2009-2010 operating budget.

But while the Drop Fees campaign has never really made any sense in light of these continuing deficits, this new plan to give the university money instead of trying to convince them to stop taking so much from students doesn’t seem to solve the problem either. By Campbell’s own admission, student response to their idea hasn’t been great, as is to be expected when asking students — who already scrape for laundry and beer money — for some extra cash. Though the $70 may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of tuition dollars, it’s extra money Campbell is proposing students aren’t obligated to give, so why would they?

It’s not that they aren’t “aware” of the issues as Campbell argues. It’s that they don’t want to.

The article quotes Campbell as saying their talks with the school’s administration have been more positive. No kidding. You’re telling the university you want to round up some extra cash for them instead of protesting fees on their doorstep. In that favourable turnaround the administration could be nothing but supportive.

While Campbell’s argument is correct in that a boost in the operating budget would go towards improving services that directly or indirectly benefit students, it is flawed in that the money should be coming from students’ pockets.

Even if every Queen’s student contributed $70, which they won’t, the point is that you’re paying into an institution and you’re expecting to receive a certain level of education and services you payed for. Its not a selfish argument, but if students take the approach the university does, that ultimately a university is a business and as students you are its customers, the logic fails. If you pay $1.99 for McDonald’s to make you a cheeseburger without cheese, you wouldn’t throw $5 at them so that they can improve the quality of the burger and make it right next time.

You’d send the burger back. While it’s hard to assess the quality of the deal Queen’s students are getting, paying more for services they already deserve isn’t the answer.