The student government at ASU has the power to influence decisions made in regard to fee increases and how those fees are utilized throughout the University. However, are student government members given the same say when it comes to decreasing fees?
To contextualize: each branch of Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Association assembly is set to vote later this week on a bill that would increase the Health and Wellness Fee by $15 each semester, or $30 per year. We must acknowledge that this fee increase of $30 per year is not that significant in the grand spectrum of costs university wide.
However, this $30 fee will have implications beyond just ourselves as individuals. While ASU President Michael Crow and the Arizona Board of Regents have done their best to make ASU , one could argue that any increases in tuition and fees are significant contributing factors to students who leave ASU. Consequently, we must be cognizant of the effects of tuition and fee increases on all students, not simply on ourselves as individuals.
And while the voice of the students is sometimes lost in the decision-making process, we must work to protect students who work every day, not just to pay tuition, but to also put food on the table. It is vital that we as student leaders be mindful of these circumstances and speak up for the students who cannot afford to stretch another $30 every single year. We write this on behalf of the students who will need to have heartbreaking conversations with their families because they can’t take out more loans to continue their education.
But we also write this to ask: What if our student government leads a conversation about fee decreases? As students, we entrust our student government with representing our voices when it comes to the fee-setting process. It appears that there is one fee's charter that provides student government the ability to decrease its cost: the Student Athletic Fee.
If our student government leaders wish to increase the health fee, we demand that they in turn decrease the athletics fee first. In recent years, athletics at ASU have earned significant surplus revenues. reported that ASU’s athletic department ran a surplus of $2.7 million, raising the question: Is the price of the current athletics fee necessary?
We as students have the power to demand a decrease in the Student Athletic Fee. According to its charter, if a decrease were proposed, multiple steps would have to be taken. These steps also require a vote by student government. Again, this is why we write to you today. If the majority vote from student government is in favor of the decrease, and the Council of Presidents agrees, the cost per student of the athletics fee will ultimately be decreased, potentially offsetting the proposed increase of the Health and Wellness Fee.
This change is only possible with our voice as a student body. We are hopeful that our student government will listen, but it is up to students to start the conversation. We ask that you write, that you post, and that you spread the word, so that this is not simply another letter to the editor, but rather a true call to action.
In conclusion, we ask that before a vote is taken to increase the health fee, a vote is taken to decrease the athletics fee to help offset the net fee increase to students.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Jimmy Arwood, public policy senior and former Undergraduate Student Government Downtown vice president of policy; David Howman, justice studies and political science senior and president of ASU College Libertarians; Jesse Avalos, political science junior and president of ASU Young Democrats and Jennifer Custis, secondary education history senior and president of ASU College Republicans. Jimmy Arwood was formerly employed as a columnist at The State Press.
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