This week, students at St. Cloud State University voted to increase student fees by $1.74 per credit hour to save the football program.
How did such a major decision come to a student vote?
The SCSU athletic department faced deficits of $550,000 in fiscal year 2012 and $600,000 in fiscal year 2013. Student fees, the budgetary equivalent of duct tape at state universities, were seen as one of the few lifelines that could rescue Husky football. So, the SCSU student government coordinated a vote and 20 percent of the student body showed up over three days to approve the measure.
President Earl H. Potter III confirmed the vote yesterday and promised students and faculty he has no intention of cutting any sports. In the meantime, administration and the athletic department will work with boosters and corporate partner to strengthen revenue streams.
As a St. Cloud State student, it might’ve been easier to vote no. The increase is capped at 12 credits, so no full-time student will pay more than $41.76 for a school year. Still, that’s $167.04 over four years alongside increasing tuition and book prices and shrinking faculties and course offerings. As part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, SCSU’s academic budget will be cut four percent in 2011 alone.
For those of you keeping score at home, college students, in general, are paying more to receive less than ever before. But don’t feel sorry for St. Cloud State students, because at least they still have Husky football.
I wish President Potter would’ve taken the heavy handed approach and said something like,
“No more. While we honor the 88-year history of our football program, we cannot expect to burden students with more fees unless their investment is fruitful. Just 100 men among our 20,000 students play football, and I can’t fathom more than a dozen will continue on to playing or coaching careers. This is a new era for St. Cloud State University, but we will go on without football. We are a proud state institution, and what does or doesn’t happen for a few hours each Saturday afternoon in the fall won’t harm our reputation. This is in the best interests of the students and the school.”
Did I mention I’m a huge college sports fan? Basketball, especially. Don’t think I was one of those bitter jerks who didn’t support his college’s athletic program. I did. Faithfully. But had the athletic program just gone and disappeared, each and every sport, I would’ve been fine. I went to college to get a degree. I’m reminded of how expensive it was each month when I cut a check to payback my student loans. A percentage of that debt came from student fees, paid out over five years and dispersed to clubs, organizations and causes I couldn’t begin to name.
If SCSU students are content with paying up so young men can play a sport, so be it. I suppose that’s honorable and part of a liberal state of mind I generally respect.
My only question is what if the library had been in peril? What if the debate team was on the verge of extinction or the theatre department was drying up? What if the student newspaper could no longer afford printing costs?
Kudos to SCSU students for delving deeper into their student debt, so long as that charitable nature exists when other groups need it, too.