College holds open forum to discuss mandatory student fees

Elizabeth Burns (left), Nicole Decker (left center), and Nicholas Lyons (right center) inform students about fees.  (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)
Elizabeth Burns (left), Nicole Decker (left center), and Nicholas Lyons (right center) inform students about fees. (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)

An open forum was held last Wednesday to discuss mandatory student fees that affect every undergraduate student at Oswego State.

Each semester, students are obligated to pay a health fee, an athletic fee and a technology fee. These are called “broad-based fees” and they help the college pay for these three services.

The open forum was held to inform students how their money would be used and to address their questions and concerns. Representatives from the health, technology and athletic departments attended to talk about their specific field and how students’ money is being used. Nicholas Lyons, Oswego State vice president of administration and finance, said that no matter how much the student fees are being increased, it is important to have a consultation with students about the issue.

Lyons said there will be a $27 increase in broad-based fees in the upcoming year. Broken down, $11 will go to the technology fee, another $11 to the athletic fee and the final $5 to health.

“All of these fees are competitively priced or comparable to the mandatory fees of other similar campuses,” he said.

Students’ demand for services has increased in recent years.

Liz Burns, director of student health at the Mary Walker Health Center, said the health fee covers many services on campus. The health fee goes toward counseling, the Lifestyles Center, peer education and even programs including open mic night and zen meditation. The health fee will be $174 this semester.

Burns said the additional costs of the health center are supplemented by other sources so that services will be kept at a minimal cost. For example, an HIV test at the Mary Walker Health Center is $5, when it would normally cost $30. Mono and pregnancy tests are available free of charge at the health center, due in part to the broad-based fees and supplemental financial contributions.

“The broad-based athletic fee is $204 this semester,” said Malcolm Huggins, assistant athletic director.

The athletic department has a $3 million budget, which includes salaries for full time and assistant coaches, equipment and operations, recreation and intramural sports and student employment. Oswego State fields 24 athletic teams, and mandatory student fees are one way of helping to fund their budget.

The technology fee was discussed by Nicole Decker, associate director of campus technology services.

“Within the last three years, the amount of devices has grown exponentially,” Decker said.

Technology fees help improve Internet bandwidth, support all the Internet traffic on campus and provide software and services for students. CTS has a plan to implement wireless access points all over campus. Currently, there are 2,000 of these wireless access points. New software, such as Adobe Creative Cloud Software, will be installed on all Oswego State-owned machines. Technology fee funds also go toward antivirus software, physical security, penetration testing to determine areas of weakness and “heavy education” on phishing and cyber security, Decker said.

Lyons said the services provided by Oswego State are paid for in part by broad-based fees are not ones that every school provides. Each year, the needs are carefully assessed.  He said he wants to ensure that the school is prepared to meet students’ needs, and that so far, “we’ve done a pretty good job,” Lyons said.

Students are welcomed to participate in the conversation each year about how their dollars are being used.