When Portland State University announced at the beginning of this academic year that it was planning to apply a 2 percent service charge to student groups next year to offset costs that the university incurs when those groups use university resources, student leaders were outraged.
Today they will demonstrate that outrage in the park blocks, in an effort to express a clear opposition to the plan.
The proposed charge, which would raise about $109,000 for the university, is meant to help make ends meet in a frigid budgetary climate where state funding for higher education continues to drop at an astonishing rate.
All the services provided to student groups (chiefly accounting services) wouldn’t be paid for in full by this 2 percent fee. In fact, it seems that student groups are getting a break.
While it’s comforting to know that the budget crisis hasn’t gotten so bad that groups won’t need to pay in full for services next year, there is no guarantee that they won’t have to the year after.
There is also no safeguard in the current plan that would prevent the university from abusing the fee.
Associate Vice President for finance and planning Cathy Dyck explains that the plan to apply a 2 percent overhead fee was meant to be as fair as possible to as many groups, while still raising the needed funds.
While the proposal is fair to student groups, it is a dangerous precedent to set. And we cannot support its implementation without either a date in the future when the fee could be eliminated pending higher state funding, or a line-item list of services provided and costs generated by student groups.
We hope that the university will continue to work with students before a chasm of outrage forces both parties to galvanize their positions and give up on the possibility of compromise.