Mandatory fee increase passed

By Peter Schuh

Although several Board of Regents members addressed a degree of concern regarding the cost to students, a $181.08 combined room and board and mandatory student fee increase was passed Thursday with only one declining vote.

The approved fees include a 5.5 percent increase in room and board and a 2.5 percent increase in mandatory fees for NIU students. This will raise NIU’s mandatory fees by $21.08 to $867.98 and its room and board rate by $160 to $3,953.98.

These increases, in addition to proposed increases for Illinois State University in Normal, were met with concern from some of the Regents.

“I’m really quite concerned about the level of fee increases that have been asked for on top of a tuition increase,” said Regent Sylvia Nichols. “I think that could threaten accessibility (to the universities).”

Regent James Myles agreed with Nichols’ point and added, “I don’t like the idea of talking about raising tuition one meeting and raising the fees during the next. I think we should have bit the bullet on one of these things.”

Myles suggested that in the future the Regents consider both fee and tuition increases during the same meeting.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves, however, did not mirror the concern of the Regents.

“At this point and time, the overall level does not alarm me,” he said.

Although he did not verbally protest the fee increase on the whole, student Regent John Butler was the one Regent to vote against it. He said he opposed the entire package because of a refundable $2.88 fee, which was not going to be increased, intended for The Northern Star.

Butler had argued during Wednesday’s Regents Finance and Facilities meeting that the fee should be taken out of the package. He again argued his point during Thursday’s meeting, saying the Star’s “chief officer” had claimed the Star does not need the fee.

In addition, he argued, “Yesterday (Wednesday), (NIU) President (John) La Tourette made reference to my position as a personal battle with The Northern Star.”

La Tourette, however, said he had never made any such statement to Butler and asked that the record show the same.

“I did not say this was a personal issue,” he said. “I was very careful not to say it was. I do not want to get in the middle of this. I am fiscally responsible for NIU and what I see is there being a fiscal deficit in the Star’s budget if we remove this fee, and I don’t care what (Northern Star Adviser Jerry) Thompson said.”

In response to Butler’s vote against the fee package, La Tourette added, “I think what is interesting is, if you look at the fee increase, the big increase is the activities fee, which goes to the Student Association.”

NIU’s activities fee will increase by 12.7 percent for next year. That is a $6.72 increase which brings NIU’s activity fee to $59.52.