Late fee increases should be rare

Get ready to flip open those checkbooks, folks.

Next week, the Board of Regents will consider, and likely pass, four student fees that will be tacked onto the cost of the fall 2003 semester.

The four fees – for the library, maintenance, parking and the student radio station – total $109 per student.

Three of the four will directly affect Western’s student body, while the other is little more than a somewhat voluntary, refundable entertainment tax.

As much as we’d like to complain about having to scrounge up more money from our less-than-full pockets, we don’t disagree with most of the fees – this time.

Unless you’d like to navigate the nighttime campus in pitch-black darkness, you’ll gladly pay the $58 maintenance fee, which will be used to refurbish the campus electrical system.

For many undergraduates, the only time they’ve seen the library was during pre-admission campus visits.

But even those who aren’t regular library users will probably wind up there eventually. If your own computer calls it a day 43 minutes before that project is due; if you can’t study because your roommate won’t turn down that godforsaken 50 Cent CD; if, amazingly, you weren’t able to Google the required five sources for that paper, you’ll be happy you forked over the $12 library fee.

Some may wonder why students who don’t park on campus should have to pay a $36 parking fee, which will pay for the 900-space expansion of the parking structure.

But the students without parking tags often use on-campus spaces after 5 p.m. And anyone who has participated in the morning dogfight for spaces on College and State streets should welcome the additional on-campus parking. The more available parking there is on campus, the less congested the off-campus locations should be.

But there is a potential downside to the fees. President Gary Ransdell has said before that students will not pay more in tuition than they paid upon first enrolling at Western.

While the fees technically are not included in tuition costs, they do contribute to the cost of a Western education, and they should have been included in the grand total of tuition and fees originally given to incoming students. Sneaking them in at the last minute isn’t something we’d like to see again.

We hope the student fees don’t become a loophole in Ransdell’s guarantee, and Ransdell and the Board of Regents shouldn’t abuse their right to propose and pass student fees in an effort to jack up revenues.

But most of the fees appear to be necessary evils.

So flip open those checkbooks, folks, and hope this will be the last time for a while.

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