Student fees likely to yield better student collaboration, productivity

By Editor-in-Chief

Students and their parents often begrudge increases in student activity fees which pile on top of every other fee we empty our wallets for every semester. But students enrolled for the Fall 2016 Semester may actually get to enjoy—and see—the rewards of those extra dollars paid to the college. 

Student fees have remained relatively steady in years past at Columbia. Last February, the college saw hikes to U-pass and student health center fees, but only by about $20 and $2, respectively, while all other fees stayed pretty status quo.

However, the Student Government Association accepted a proposal from the Office of Student Success on Feb. 2 that will boost student activity fees by $20 for full-time students and $10 for part-timers. 

This year’s student fee increases appear to be allocated more to original initiatives than those of years past.

As reported in the story on Page 4, these increases are expected to go toward establishing specific student spaces to enable students to showcase their work on campus and host meetings and events.

In the article on Page 4, Vice President of Student Success Mark Kelly stressed the importance of providing these long-needed spaces for students at a college known for its lack of a traditional campus architecture.

“Our highest priority is building a community and showcasing students’ bodies of work,” he said. “We want to activate these spaces to do that.” 

His statements rings true among Columbia’s most artistic and collaborative students. We are told at collegewide events like Convocation and during our many class sessions, that networking is of the utmost importance in the creative fields Columbia represents, but a tour around campus shows many of the spaces we already have are set up more appropriately to facilitate a study hall in silence than a student organization meeting or student-organized art gallery. 

Some of the spaces we already use also seem to go without many visitors. Many of them go unnoticed or under advertised—even the basement space in the 600 S. Michigan Ave. Building doesn’t ring a bell among many students in their senior year. 

Perhaps one of the more exciting aspects of this news, though, is the reminder that all of these student activity fees and the future rearrangements of many existing spaces are done with the upcoming Student Center in mind. 

While the college will now reevaluate the necessity of increasing or continuing fee amounts every two years instead of three years as established by the SGA and Student Life, doing so will at the very least enable the college to do what’s necessary to carry out plans for the Student Center, scheduled for completion in late 2018. 

Ideally, though, the need to continue raising student fees every two years after the building is standing tall will become a thing of the past.

Columbia students have long been seeking more workable student spaces, but they shouldn’t be expected to fund them entirely when many colleges throughout the country already tout attractive and comfortable student spaces. 

As many students often say, the college currently offers couches and tables in hallways, next to classrooms or in other areas that do not allow for as much productivity or collaboration as spaces specifically dedicated to student networking opportunities. 

The college’s higher-ups should keep this in mind as they allocate funding toward additional and reimagined student spaces.