Lack of publicity hurts student fee forum
Think back to this time last year, when the University was balancing the decision of whether to cut baseball and men’s soccer in order to comply with Title IX and the budget.
Remember the messages that would be sent out by President Loeschke and other members of the administration about the cuts and the process of determining which sports would or wouldn’t be cut?
But now that there is a discussion about increasing student fees, I can only wonder where those same emails and outlets of communication are.
I first heard of the student fees through someone close to the situation, and the proposed increase was later confirmed by an advertisement that was sent to The Towerlight (which later ran in Monday’s issue).
Unfortunately, not every student on campus reads The Towerlight, and not everyone saw the story we printed about the proposal.
This was reflected in the lack of attendance at both the student fee forum and the Student Government Association meeting on Tuesday.
At the fee forum, which was targeted at all students, the only people there were representatives from the SGA. Besides Towerlight writers, the only non-SGA affiliated people at the meeting were two students, who I believe were undergraduates and one graduate student.
The same students who neglected to show up will be the ones complaining six months from now that their bill from Towson was higher than it was last year, yet the University had the opportunity for students to come out and ask questions about the student fee process and this particular round of increases.
However, some of the fault for the lack of student interest should fall back on the University.
There was nothing in T3 Tuesday morning about the forum, and the ad was sent to The Towerlight for the issue that printed a day before the forum was even held.
On the Master Events calendar on the TU home page, there was a listing for the forum. However, instead of mentioning the proposed fee increases, the description for the event was “Interested in learning about the process for determining proposed fee increases? Would you like to learn more about the mandatory fees all undergraduate and graduate students pay…The forum will provide an opportunity to share information on institutional needs to support student services for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.”
In the forum, Vice President of Student Affairs Deb Moriarty and Vice President for Administration and Finance Joe Oster did an excellent job of explaining why the fees were going to be increased and what the money would be used for.
After hearing them speak, I became completely in favor of the increase in fees because I think the University is doing great things to help the student experience at Towson.
Unfortunately, no students were there to hear the explanation.
Earlier on Tuesday, an email was sent out about making sure everyone attends the football game on Saturday. Why couldn’t the University have sent out an email to all students bringing up the fee forum? It affects more students than the sports cuts did, yet the sports cuts got more publicity from Towson.
Granted, the SGA is representative of the student body, but they almost did not allow ample time to disseminate the information to students.
There was a resolution on the table at the SGA meeting that would have supported an increase in SGA fees for students by $4. Granted, $4 isn’t a lot of money but the overall sum of money that the SGA and the University would be getting from the increased fees adds up fast, and students have the right to know what their money is being spent on.
The SGA resolution was eventually tabled due to the short turnaround time between the forum on the fees and the SGA meeting, which was literally minutes.
One senator argued that he would forget what was discussed at the forum if the resolution was put off until after break, but the students of Towson deserve that time to learn about the fee increases.
The University and the student body need to both improve the lines of communication. If students don’t know about an event, they won’t go to it. But for the students who do know and who do have an opinion about it, and voice their concerns in Towerlight comments or on social media, they need to be stepping up to the plate to make sure their input is heard.