Evidenced by the very active “ESU Bulletin Recommendation Group” on Facebook, with over 40 posts bringing in hundreds of comments at the time of this column’s writing, students are beginning to investigate where their student fees are going and rightfully so. I believe and will attempt to prove here that the funds allocated to The Bulletin should be of minimal concern to students.
I am sure any student that has been at ESU longer than a year has witnessed the consistent increase in student fees year-to-year. Without much digging, one might think the increase has been due to the recent renovation of the Student Union. This is simply not the case.
Compiling data from the last nine years of student fees, as published in the University Catalog, proves this theory to not be entirely accurate. Over the last nine years, student fees have increased an average $33 per year with a maximum increase of $70 per year. However, if allocations for the renovation of the Student Union are excluded, the fees have still increased on average $14 per year with a maximum increase of $20 per year.
Perhaps these increases in student fees are compensation for inflation of the US dollar. After adjusting the student fees to the 2010 U.S. dollar using the consumer price index, I determined the student fee increased an average of $26 per year, including the renovation allocation and $7 per year on average, excluding the renovation allocation.
If you are like me, you immediately begin to wonder where that money is going if it is not for the renovation project. Looking at the fee allocation over the last nine years, I found that after adjusting the student fee allocations to a percent of the total, there were only four fee allocations that increased – athletic activity (+7.5%), recreational services/physical education building (+2.2%), Associated Student Government (+1.2%), and student health (+0.1%). Since my “research” set out to determine how much of our student fees currently and historically go towards The Bulletin, in this same timeframe, the allocation for the ESU Bulletin has decreased (-0.9%).
Whether or not the funding of The Bulletin should remain the same, increase, or decrease is not the focus of this letter. This letter serves the sole purpose of suggesting that ESU students examine the allocation of student fees in its entirety and not just certain items. For example, where does the $131 “athletic activity fee” go? In what way is the $29 “recreational facility” fee different than the $24 “recreational services/physical education building?”
This entire situation reminds me of something that occurs in politics quite often – a politician will announce the cut of some program costing the government millions of dollars, and the media will proceed to publicize it as the government working to lower the deficit. The only problem with this is that the deficit is in trillions, not millions. Those millions are merely a drop in the proverbial bucket.
As far as the content in The Bulletin goes, I see no reason for the staff of the newspaper to not consider the suggestions posted on the aforementioned Facebook group. However, when it comes to students trying to reduce their student fees, I would suggest looking elsewhere in the list of allocations. After all, the Bulletin’s allocation is in the bottom half of allocations and accounts for only 2% of our student fees.
I am a strong believer in data-based decision-making. As Mark Twain so eloquently said, “It ain’t so much what we know that gets us into trouble. It’s what we know that just ain’t so.”
To try and alleviate any further “misunderstanding” regarding ESU’s student fees, I have made the data acquired and processed for the completion of this letter available to view or download online here.