Student senate considers fee increase
It's not unusual for college students to count their pennies. North Dakota's college students might take that to the extreme since they graduate with some of the highest loan debts in the nation. It's no surprise, then, that Dickinson State Unive...
It's not unusual for college students to count their pennies.
North Dakota's college students might take that to the extreme since they graduate with some of the highest loan debts in the nation.
It's no surprise, then, that Dickinson State University students' ears perk up when there's the slightest whisper of a fee increase.
DSU's student senate held a regular meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss whether or not to add a fee to support the proposed Badlands Activities Center.
"As a body, we support looking into a fee increase and seeing if it's supported by the students," student senate President Lydia Johnson said.
Johnson said it's important for the student senate to gather input before making a decision, which is why she proposed establishing a committee made up of senators.
Johnson proposed, and the senate agreed, the committee be made up of herself, student senate Vice President Bradley Auch, and senator members Megan Wagner and Amarbayar Amarsanaa.
She said the group would first determine if the students supported a fee increase and if so what and how the increase should be implemented.
"(DSU President) Dr. (Lee) Vickers said what we decide, they're going to go with," Johnson said.
Johnson said she met with Vickers and Hal Haynes, vice president for student development, to learn more about the project.
"If we are going to do a fee increase, Dr. Vickers wants it to be a student-recommended fee increase," Johnson said.
She informed the senators the estimated cost of the Badlands Activities Center is between $15 million and $16 million.
"We need to decide what's the students' fair share of that," Johnson said.
Student senate member Khatanbuuvei Munkhtur said the university has already done an initial survey on whether students would support an increase.
Munkhtur said the result of the initial survey was that students either didn't support any increase or would support a $5-20 increase.
Currently, the maximum fees a student can have are $2,386 per semester, which includes tuition fees. The student government fee, which would be the likely fund to support the proposed activities center, is currently $5 per credit hour, or $60 for students taking a full schedule.
Johnson said the survey essentially helped raise awareness about the project, as many students aren't familiar with the scale of the Badlands Activities Center.
Student senate member Nickito Johnson said because students are still unaware of the project, he proposed putting up a display in the student center to raise awareness. Other senate members mentioned holding an open forum.
"My biggest concern is when you look at the student perspective, it's already difficult to get students involved in the simplest of things," Nickito Johnson said.
Nickito Johnson, a senior, said it's easy to see that current students won't necessarily benefit from the center so wouldn't want to put funds toward it.
Nickito Johnson said it would be important to educate students on how the Badlands Activities Center could be a place that he and other students could return to in 10 years and be proud of their contribution.
Student senate member Aparna Subramanian said since later students may benefit more from the activities center, the committee could consider increasing the fee over time, rather than having a flat fee through the years of the project.
Although the student senate has a number of decisions to weigh and needs time to gather input, Lydia Johnson said she would like to have something done this semester if possible.