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Regents approve new "emergency" fee

The Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the increase in mandatory "emergency" fees to $200 from the temporary $100 fee imposed this year on students. The fee was originally described as a one-time fee for the fall semester of the 2009 school year, though it was soon apparent that it would be levied on the spring 2010 semester as well. On Tuesday the Board of Regents voted to raise the fee to $200 to help cover the 8% budget cuts that will be implemented in the 2010-2011 school year.

Many students are upset over the imposition of this fee not for the purpose of easing cuts on the schools, but because it is an increase on a temporary, emergency fee that was supposed to be for only one semester. A number of students have questioned why the Board did not raise tuition, since Georgia's is one of the lowest in the United States. If the tuition were raised, most scholarships and grants would cover the increase, but since these do not cover the associated fees levied on students, this is coming directly out of the pockets of students.

Most UGA students already pay $750 in fees and will pay $850 next year. The Board of Regents voted to also freeze all of the associated fees such as transportation and activities so that they would not go up, however, if those areas are unable to make their typical commitments without raising fees, then they will have to either cut services or charge students directly for services. One area that will likely see cuts is in transit, since the largest operating expense is the price of diesel fuel. If fuel goes up, it is likely that some of the less used routes will begin to be trimmed back or cut altogether. The transit system has had an increase in ridership and demand for its services due to the current economic climate, but if they are forced to cut back, then it will directly effect students and their ability to travel safely and easily between classes and areas of campus.

On some of the numerous forums discussing this increase, people have wondered why the regents are adding this new fee along with the 8% cuts, when enrollment in the University system is supposed to have increased by over 6%. A popular point that numerous posters asked was, "what happened to all of the money that these new students are bringing?" 

This does beg the question of where is all of the money going. Perhaps it is going into flights for UGA President Michael Adams and the Board of Regents? Or maybe into one of the numerous large construction projects around campus or in the final stages of proposal such as the new Reed Alley and Stegman Coliseum expansions? Whatever the case may be, by far the most common fault that people have with the Board of Regents is that they did not even attempt to open this matter to discussion or ask students (who are paying this fee) what they had to say in the matter. The entire situation is very similar to that which the large banks forced on the average consumer, and one can only wonder; will the state and the students eventually have to bail out the Regents when their spending gets out of hand? I think that the answer to this question is yes, and that we are already seeing the first signs of this bailout today.