Fees for athletics should be optional

By Hayley Devitt

Much of NIU’s meaty price tag is owed to various student fees, but do you wonder where that money goes?

It seems like getting an education is more expensive every year, and much to my chagrin, an athletic fee is assessed every semester among a long list of charges. According to the Office of the Bursar website, “These collected fees support the university’s intercollegiate athletic programs for both men and women.”

In a 2010 USA Today graphic, you can see the amounts students at colleges across the country paid in tuition and how much of that makes up athletic fees. NIU came in at 4.9 percent while plenty of other schools demand 0 to less than 1 percent.

According to NIU’s online tuition estimator, an undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours will pay about $265 out of pocket each semester to help pay for athletic programs.

And for every credit hour up to 12 hours, exactly $22.07 is charged. To some, that may not seem like an outrageous amount of money, but to me it is money I would prefer not to pay. I find it unfair because I am not at college to watch games.

My fellow students had differing views.

“I think it helps the athletic teams get to where they need to go,” said Eddie Fisher, junior pre-physical therapy major. “It’s something pretty much all schools are practicing, anyway.”

That is true, but the responsibility of funding for trips, equipment and uniforms should not fall on the common students’ shoulders.

“That’s actually one thing I miss about my school, because we didn’t have that,” said Shannon Bordon, sophomore geography major and transfer student.

Bordon said students at her former college would pay a one-time sum of $100 only if they intended to use the workout facilities. She said mandatory athletic fees are not necessary and said it is “kind of ridiculous that they have to put it in our tuition.”

So not everyone is a fan of NIU’s athletic money-grabbing machine. There are already hefty, but reasonable for what they do, fees for activities and services on campus, so an additional one for athletics should not be crucial to keeping these programs running.

Again, there are Huskies who are only here to learn about a future job, do good work in their classes and get degrees. The athletic fee also hurts commuter students who are not around campus on evenings and weekends to go to games in the first place.

I think students who do attend games could pay a discounted admission price. Funding athletics does not have to work on a tax-like basis.

I feel $22 per credit hour would be better spent on materials for class. College athletics are important to many students and alumni, but not so much that our tuition must pay for it.