Fee hike requires scrutiny

Should the university be shelling out money and increasing student fees for an athletic department that might be a sinking ship?

This week, Intercollegiate Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell unveiled a plan asking for another increase in student fees.

This increase is an attempt to save the athletic department, whose budget has been cut 40 percent and reallocated to academics. If O’Dell’s fee increase is implemented, the athletic department would be able to make up 38 percent of this cut.

The reallocation was the result of heat placed on the university by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The IBHE seems to be under the impression that money could be better spent in higher education.

In fact, the IBHE thought we were wasting money on things like a law school and many graduate programs. With substantial academic programs like these facing a questionable future, should the NIU administration really be spending its time looking for ways to save the athletic department, which is mediocre at best? Is the fee increase for athletics in the best interest of the students, considering that many don’t attend the games and really don’t care?

Before the decision is made, these questions must be answered. In order to thoroughly do so, a special committee should be formed to take a long hard look at the proposal. The decision should not simply be left up to La Tourette and the Board of Regents (who might be breathing their last breath soon anyway).

The committee needs to be unbiased and cannot be another administrative rubber stamp. In addition, both students and faculty must be represented.

The committee should be designed to serve the best interests of the students and the university as a whole, not the special interests of the athletic department.