As an NIU student, there are a lot of things to pay for.
The biggest of these, of course, is tuition.
According to NIU's bursar tuition estimator, an average, 12 credit hour student pays an estimated yearly tuition of $10,661.68.
This grand total includes general fees and expenses, such as books, course materials and other fees.
One fee that is factored into every student's tuition are tickets to NIU sporting events. This allows every student to go to any event, whether it be football, wrestling, tennis or golf, and see the game or match for "free," although technically it has already been paid for.
The problem here is exactly how many students are going to these games? Obviously, football games attract a lot of fans, but no one tailgates outside of the Convocation Center for a gymnastics event (no offense, gymnasts).
The problem can best be seen when witnessing an NIU basketball game.
The top level seats at the Convocation Center only get folded down for high school basketball events these days. At the last home game, a 78-53 loss to Western Michigan, the sparse amount of fans got so quiet during the blow out that one could hear the coaches talking to players across the floor during timeouts.
It would only make sense to have students pay for games they want to see and not pay for the ones they don't go to.
The problem is NIU needs that money.
According to the U.S. Department of Education's institutional data website's 2010-2011 report, which provides the amounts of revenue and expenses for every athletic program in the country, the total amount of expense for every sport in both men's and women's teams at NIU totaled $15,567,295 while their revenue for every sport in men's and women's teams totals only $7,297,247
That means the athletic programs at NIU lose the school a total of $8,270,048 per year.
Even football, which makes $4,140,272 a year costs the school $6,312,477, losing more money than any other program.
Understandably, the teams at NIU play in the very glamourless Mid-Western Athletic Conference, which won't generate revenue. But losing millions of dollars per year means that there will be cut backs.
For now, students are stuck paying for every single ticket to every single sporting event that happens on campus.
If NIU were to simply cut some programs, it could save millions of dollars per year. The school could afford to pay for parking passes, building renovations, better computers and even better landscaping.
Obviously not everyone can make it to games, and many people do not like sports, but the only way to get the university to stop charging the ticket costs to tuition is to start going to some of these games.
Go see the basketball team play on a Saturday, or go to a wrestling meet or a gymnastics match. Many of these programs are in some desperate need of student support, especially basketball, which benefits greatly from the home court advantage of fans.
So please, take advantage of those tickets. You may as well go anyway, because you already paid for them.