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Editorial: WSU pedestrian fee an unnecessary disconnect between students, faculty

By Editorial Board
On February 5, 2013

  • Whimsically costumed actors perform the American Family Theater's rendition of the fairy tale 'Sleeping Beauty' at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts Sunday. Adam Bickford

It isn't unheard of for a university to charge fees for things like parking, campus police or even general maintenance around campus. However, students at Worcester State University in Massachusetts are being charged a fee simply for walking on campus.
The $72 annual pedestrian fee has been going toward maintaining walkways and other pedestrian necessities since 2010. Officials of the university claim that it's an unfortunate mandatory fee to make up for a turbulent time of decreased state funding. The university already charges students parking fees, similar to those here at UConn. While the parking fees are optional, many at WSU claim that the parking provided by the fee is inadequate.
At UConn students are charged upwards of $100 for parking passes in order to live on campus, commute or keep a car here. While parking is adequate, it's not yet ideal.
The real issue at WSU is the fact that students are charged a mandatory fee for something that they cannot avoid being - a pedestrian.
It's not by any means uncommon for a university to set up mandatory student fees. In this economy, it's one of the most prominent ways for them to get money. However, when it comes to something like a pedestrian fee, it's difficult for those who have to pay it not to feel taken advantage of, or take it a bit personally. Students don't see a benefit from this fee and it's almost equivalent to a fee for breathing in that there is no possible way to avoid using this service.
If universities are strapped for cash and are in the unfortunate position of having to charge students fees in order to keep things going, it's necessary not to let those fees get out of hand, such as this $72 a year fee for students. While it may not seem like much in the grander total of student tuition. To keep it in perspective, $72 is only about $28 less than the optional student-parking fee here at UConn. Imagine being a commuter and paying for sub-par parking in addition to spending $72 just to exit your car and walk to class. Higher education is a noble goal but even the smartest of Americans will have difficulty justifying such costs to their families and their wallets.
The key here is not to condemn the idea of mandatory student fees. They're obviously a necessary evil for universities to function. However, in the case of WSU, the fee is a bit heavy handed and has resulted in students a disconnect with their university. If fees are abused in this way, the mentality on campus becomes students versus the administration, a relationship that benefits no one. 

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