Subtle Benefits of Student-Space Fees
Letter to the Editor
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 01:01
To the Editor:
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about eliminating student-space fees, and student leaders and groups are both praising this plan. I’m here to be the bad guy. I think space fees are very necessary and that leaders and clubs are too shortsighted to see why.
As president of a student group, I’m concerned about the new plan for spaces. Our student group only reserves classrooms and uses funds for travelling events. However, if the Student Activities Commission begins allocating part of its budget to cover Office of Campus Activity Facilities costs, then the allocation percentages for budgets will need to go down, affecting all groups across the board whether they use space or not. This is not a universal benefit, but rather an enrichment of large clubs that use lots of space at the expense of smaller ones.
Moreover, as an OCAF employee, there are two major problems I foresee. Firstly, student groups are terrible at cancelling space reservations. The fees, however, force student groups to think through reservations before making them and actually cancel when events don’t happen, in order to conserve costs. Also, cancellation fees help OCAF recover costs from setting up equipment and opening and closing spaces that groups don’t use. Eliminating the fees kills these incentives and backups; it will only serve to drive up the expenses of Special Events and OCAF. Secondly, student groups already complain and fight over space availability. Making spaces free will only exacerbate this problem and cause more over-reservation.
But what about registrar spaces? Aren’t they free? First off, registrar classrooms are opened in the morning and closed at night; as long as no classes are happening, the registrar can give rooms to student groups at virtually no extra cost. OCAF spaces do not work this way. Secondly, the Center for Student Engagement actually gives a large chunk of its budget to the registrar at the beginning of each year to cover classroom costs, so they’re really not free. Why don’t our student leaders understand these crucial differences?
Space fees are necessary, but, unfortunately, they make great demagogic speech material. Why don’t our student leaders focus on real issues instead of creating their own?