by Drew P.
On April 26, 2017, the Student Fee Board recommended an increase in the Student Fee to approximately $258 per semester, which is a large increase from the previous year. Both the Student Facility Fee and the Student Activities Fee only amounted to $222 per semester. One large part of this, is the $57 gym fee that will be charged to every student. Currently it costs only $60 for the summer pass which goes from April 15th to September 14th, taking up multiple summer semesters, with the yearly cost usually averaging around $110 if bought at the beginning of the fall semester.
The requirement that every student pay a fee for gym membership is particularly absurd, as the price does not even lower significantly in proportion to the massive increase in people who now have access to the gym. While some of the increased price will go to keeping the gym opened longer, this measure is still likely to cause even more overcrowding than previously. This also disproportionately burdens those living farther away from campus and non-traditional college students, as they are even less likely to use these gym services. If a person lives far away from campus, they may rather opt to use a gym closer to their own house or apartment. Likewise, non-traditional students may not have the time to make use of the gym, as they may have a job or family to worry about. With this new fee along with the steadily rising tuition, non-traditional students will have an even more difficult time paying for college.
Apart from the massive gym fee, the Student Fee also forces students to pay for a number of other things that nothing to do with the stated purpose of an institution for higher education. For instance, there is a $9.75 fee for mental health at Penn State. While this may seem like a just fee to some, not everyone needs to use CAPS. Mental health is covered by most insurance, and the overwhelming majority of students do not need to use this service, which according to this study only 9.5% of students feel depressed. I for one have never needed to make use of this service at Penn State, and I feel that making every student pay for the services that only a slim minority will use is absurd.
Speaking of services used by the slim minority of students, $.82 goes to the LGBTQA student resource center. According to this Gallup Survey, only 3.8% of the population are on the LGBT spectrum. Therefore, why should I, a straight cis-gendered man have to pay for these services that I will never need to use? More importantly, why must every student pay for these resources? If the LGBTQA community wishes to be equal, why is the school treating them unequally? Even worse than that, their website is using my tuition money to pay for politically partisan propaganda like “Discussing the Intersection of Queerness and Race and Ethnicity “. If they wish to host this inflammatory content, please keep my money away from it. I would not want to force all students to pay for conservative workshops on campus, so it is unacceptable that Penn State would do this with 3rd wave feminism / liberal ideology.
The student fee funds several other things for which most students will never have need, such as $2.50 for childcare subsidies, $5.00 for student legal services, $.47 for the center for women students and $1.54 for music coverage and student insurance. Seeing as most undergraduates do not have children, I am perplexed as to why this is even on here. If Penn State must charge somebody for this, put this on the grad student bill. The student legal services is also quite limited in what they can do, and none of their areas of practice coincided with anything I was involved in as an undergrad. Seeing as I am not a woman, I have no idea why I am having my tuition money taken for women’s services. Penn State would be better off having this fee go to women only, seeing as the organization has a clear gender bias given their name. Even so, given their mission statement, I feel that many of these matters would be adequately addressed by the police such as stalking and sexual assault. The music coverage and student insurance is quite the interesting charge as well, as I have no idea how music coverage is related to student insurance. I have done some research into this, and found little information describing the relationship between the two or even what the music charge is for. As for student insurance, I already have private health insurance, so I am paying for services that I did not use. Add on top of this the fact that the student insurance has an additional cost if the student wishes to use it, and the charge makes even less sense
The background to this newest increase in tuition is a social redistributionist mentality which has been slowly festering on american college campuses for several decades. At the root of the ideas behind all of these fees and charges is the idea that you as an individual have no right to what you earn. If you have no right to what you earn then it must be taken away from you to serve the public good, and if you don’t like that then it is because you are a greedy member of a Patriarchal Capitalistic Oppression Hierarchy. The truth is you are a reasonable person who believe’s that it is every individual’s responsibility to support himself and only take from his community what he is capable of providing to it. In this case that means paying for your own gym membership, child care, shrink visits and Intersectional Ethnic Queer discussion panels. Just hit up George Soros. I’m sure he’ll pitch in.