General fee distribution needs more transparency

It is surprising that student fees did not drastically increase to compensate for the lack of adequate state funding, but NIU should be more transparent in its distribution of the fees that students pay.

President Doug Baker’s administration has attempted to cut costs by reducing spending on all non-critical services and supplies, according to a Jan. 18 Baker Report.

For the 2017-18 academic year tuition costs will remain the same but the general fee that all students must pay will increase by $24.72, bringing the total fee up to $1,403.80, according to an email sent by the Bursar’s office to the Northern Star.

Students should view this increase as reasonable when looking at the many other changes—such as cutting back on printers and printing in general around campus—NIU has had to undergo to save money.

Students are often skeptical as to how exactly the general fee is allocated, and some feel certain programs receive more funding while others are neglected.

“I think it’s kind of ironic that the general fee went up, and it does go toward athletic programs… And yet, dining hall maintenance, like Stevenson Dining in particular, needs plenty of maintenance,” said Jaida Snowden, senior public health major. “There’s all kinds of leaks and things wrong with the kitchen, and yet, the athletes have new uniforms… But I am glad tuition didn’t go up… .”

The general fee goes toward paying for a variety of services and programs such as building maintenance for classrooms and campus facilities such as the Recreation Center and the Holmes Student Center; use of the Huskie Buses; the Student Association and activities hosted by it; Health Services; and its intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women, according to the NIU website.

The student population benefits from the services that the general fee helps support. However, some students feel they should be able to see the improvements or maintenance that their money contributed to.

“It is weird that there is an upcharge, but there’s no difference [on campus],” said Leah Curry, sophomore rehabilitation services major. “I feel like there won’t be a difference unless it’s like when it [goes] to athletes or things like that that are promoted…that’s what I think the added $24.00 is going toward.”

Additionally, NIU was approved for and received half of its yearly budget, $48 million, but had to use the money to cover expenses for Fiscal Year 2016 instead of putting it toward FY17 as intended, according to the Baker Report.