Editorial: Money shot

Published On:
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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In a famous nursery rhyme, the angry giant warns the reader of his impending rabblerousing with a simple call: Fee-fi-fo-fum.

At the Tempe campus, our trouble-causing behemoth — Undergraduate Student Government — keeps their warning more simple: Fee. As in a $25-per semester student fee tacked onto our tuition.

We’d prefer the angry giant.

Sadly, we are left with the living contradiction that is USG as our student body’s overlord.

Why are we so opposed to our governing peers?

Frankly, we’re still bitter about this semester’s new fee — the Student Initiatives Fee.

We still feel like a group that lobbied hard against increasing our tuition should not do an about-face and petition the Arizona Board of Regents to tack an additional $50 per year to our ASU charges for the sake of increasing their budget. To us, it seems USG is very poor at putting their money where their mouth is.

This fee has added $1.7 million to USG’s budget, an organization that should assist Tempe undergraduates in cutting back costs, thus repeatedly stabbing an already-high-paying student body in the back.
However, at this point, we’re no longer just bitter about the basic idea of the fee. We’re also peeved about some of its recently unveiled benefactors.

Sure, with a new budget of more than $3 million, USG did some good. They increased appropriations to student clubs, funded improvements for the Safety Escort Service and added to the pot that has brought major speakers like Bill Clinton to campus.

These things are good and will help the larger campus community, and the student fee-distribution board should be proud.

But there are some major head-scratchers on the list — namely the $70,000 program that provides 1,000 copies of The New York Times to students on the Tempe campus and the absurd amount of $202,000 going to Arizona Public Interest Research Group.

Spending $70,000 for the Times — which has a free, comprehensive Web site — is an unbelievable amount. While it is a nice sentiment, the money could be much better spent on student programs.

Speaking of the need for better spending, it’s astounding to us that nearly 12 percent of the money raised by this year’s fee is for Arizona PIRG, the state wing of a national lobbyist group.

According to the national organization’s Web site, “U.S. PIRG’s mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects our health, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.”

We get the feeling every fee-paying undergraduate on ASU has a unique viewpoint on what a fair economy is and how responsive the government should be. So, not to demean PIRG’s good intentions, but they have no place receiving student funds.

For the sake of comparison, the money USG has given to PIRG — a group that helped lobby for the fee, we might add — was only $13,000 less than the entire amount divvied out to the Polytechnic campus’ student government. That’s beyond silly to us.

Overall, we’re still not happy about the fee or how it’s being spent. And though it’s true that money can’t buy us happiness, we would be pretty thrilled to get our $25 back, too.