As we reflect on our years at UC Ivine after graduation and move on to the big, bad world, there is a sense of pride and loyalty we should feel as Anteaters, linked to one of the top research universities in the world. In that moment, when someone asks us what our Alma mater was, the alumni cry heard around the world should be, “UC Irvine! Zot zot!”
Granted, this is difficult now, especially considering the steady, significant tuition fee increase in the past few years. For example, let’s compare the rising tuition prices: for the 2008-2009 school year, the yearly tuition alone was $6,262; now, for the current 2012-2013 school year the annual tuition is a whopping $11,220.
Of course, this price is purely for a body in a classroom space, and it does not include a wide variety of sub-fees such as the Student Services Fee ($324 per quarter), Student Center Fee ($136.50 per quarter), TGIF or The Green Initiative Fund Fee ($3.50 per quarter) and the newly added, much criticized eTech fee ($60 per quarter) for the use of EEE, a service that prior to Spring quarter of 2012 was free.
Just when we thought there could not be another required fee for existing as an Anteater, UCI tacks on another charge to student life; however, this time, the charge is for campus organizations.
Beginning in the winter of 2013, UCI will begin charging on-campus organizations a flat fee for the usage of classroom buildings to hold their meetings. The proposed price ranges from $50 to $148 per classroom usage, depending on the size of the classroom used.
The basis of this fee is meant to act as a way to balance the cuts in facilities. Since the facilities management has cut classroom maintenance from five days a week to three days a week, Student Life and Leadership sees the fees as a justification to maintain cleanliness without digging further into the campus’ pockets.
Sure, in the long run, it’s just another fee. And Anteaters have become accustomed to the new ways of acquiring money from students’ pockets, whether it be for using EEE or having access to the Bren Events Center. But it should come down to the idea of loyalty: Is UCI truly loyal to its students? Or has the administration begun to consider students so synonymous with customers that we are mere bodies in a capitalistic venture where UCI values profit over education?
To answer this question, let’s visit the opinion of Chancellor Michael Drake. According to the Office of the Chancellor’s webpage, the Chancellor has a specific vision for UCI: “It is my goal to infuse our values into the core of everything we do at the University of California, Irvine.
These values — respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, empathy, appreciation and fun — foster the creative process, build stronger bonds between people and inspire a shared sense of purpose. It is my hope that as dedicated members of the UC Irvine community, we will continue to live by these values and promote the highest standards of excellence in all that we do.”
The concept of unity is clearly important in the message, since Drake mentions building strong bonds between people. But the very idea of sub-charges clearly undermines any unity that one would expect to see on a campus, especially an education system with a supposed value system such as Drake’s.
Concerning each adjective chosen, is UCI truly treating us with the described values? Are Anteaters treated with respect, empathy and fun? Are all socio-economic students appreciated? And, are we all a part of a united community?
The addition of a campus organization fee is only another small stone that is being thrown in the pool of UCI’s money pit; yet, we think it should raise questions within the student community of whether or not we are being respected, or taken advantage of.
The separation of administration and student is a growing divide that is only worsened by fee increases. Students should feel supported rather than abandoned by UCI’s administration team, yet very few opportunities we have at UCI are untouched by additional costs.
It is safe to say that the bond between administration and student is no different than the bond between a business and a customer. The question is, how long will we continue buying the product?
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