EDITORIAL: On the house: Student groups should get free access to host events in DUC, Van Meter

Editorial cartoon 4.26.11

Herald staff

The issue: Student organizations must pay a fee for the use of some large campus facilities.

Our stance: The fee should be waived for student organizations, as the events they hold benefit WKU.

Throughout the year, student groups seek venues such as the Downing University Center theater and Van Meter Hall to host some of their large events. But it might become difficult for some groups when there is a fee involved.

Because there is such a range in student organizations – religious groups, academic clubs, Greeks and political organizations – there is also a range in their budgets. While some might have grants, large memberships, sponsoring partners and other connections that help with expenses, many have to raise money on their own.

To do that, the student groups might plan a big performance or other event that could lead to profit, and it makes sense that they would choose a convenient, sizable location, like DUC theater, to do so. Sure, there are other free locations, but they might not be as accommodating.

Since the DUC theater renovation, there has been an hourly fee for staffing during any event hosted there. In the past the fee was not enforced; student groups simply had to reserve a time and were in charge of their own set-up.

Charging to use the space is unfair to student organizations with big visions, but small budgets. There is a $9 hourly charge per staffer and a $10 hourly charge for a manager. On average, for a four-hour booking, there are three staffers and one manager, equaling $184.

The fee is not outrageous, but every dollar counts when groups have to financially support themselves.

Furthermore, since the students who make up the groups pay student activity fees with tuition, they should be covered. After all, the programs they put on, whether for entertainment or academic purposes, add to the diversity of options for all students and enhance campus life.

To support student groups, DUC management should consider only applying the fees to people who host non-campus related events. Perhaps they could give student groups an instruction manual for operating lights, sound or any other technical equipment, if necessary.

Without the charge, more student organizations might have the option of hosting big events, rather than being limited in programming because of the extra expense. They could also possibly lower their admission costs to further please students who attend their programs.

Whatever the resolution, student organizations should have the freedom to use the facilities that their tuition help to maintain, especially when hundreds on campus and in the greater community can benefit from it.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.