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New student fee misses the point

One of the many problems stemming from this fee is its ambiguity in detailing what positions, exactly, will be created using the newly-required student money.

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By Martin Castro (The Cascade) – Email

Illustration by Sultan Jum

A new student fee, the Student Experiential Learning and Wellness fee, will soon be implemented by the university. The fee will require that students pay an additional $2.79 per credit. This means that a student enrolled in a 30-credit year would be expected to pay an additional $83.70. The fee is a work-around the provincial tuition-limit policy, which limits the annual bump in tuition costs to no more than two per cent, (since the amount any one student would pay would be determined on a flat-rate by-credit basis). The money is intended to go towards the funding of several new positions at the university, such as positions at the Career Centre, coordinators in portfolio development (as well as one in recreation), and wellness programs.

One of the many problems stemming from this fee is its ambiguity in detailing what positions, exactly, will be created using the newly-required student money. The 2016-17 budget points to the “development and support of experiential and co-curricular learning opportunities, health and well-being services and programming, and expanded peer mentoring and peer tutoring opportunities.”

For a fee that will, according to the budget, generate $540,000 in revenue, its projected applications seem disconcertingly vague.  

Firstly, we’re told some of this money (but not how much) will be allocated to “experiential and co-curricular learning opportunities.” That sounds awesome. But what does that mean? I couldn’t tell you, precisely because of its vagueness. These opportunities might in part refer to aiding students in building a comprehensive portfolio, a body of work they can, having graduated, present to a potential employer in hopes of getting a job.

This seems like a good idea, but should the building of a portfolio be covered by student funds? On that note, should student money fund health and well-being services, whatever those are?

The fact that this fee was green-lit is slightly baffling when we take into account that just last year the Writing Center was closed down, with lack of sufficient student engagement being cited as the reason for its closure.

On top of that, it’s worrisome that UFV students weren’t involved in the process of deciding what their money is going to fund this time around.

Portfolio creation is awesome. Experiential learning is awesome. What’s also awesome is focusing on the aspects of student services that already exist on campus, not on cutting funding to those aspects until they’re barely recognizable, then throwing a fancy name on them and charging $83.70 a year.

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