No Option to Opt Out of Activity Fees
Campus activities umbrellas many other organizations on campus, and often hosts events around campus promoting the school and Broncho Pride. However, there s no possibility of students opting out of paying activity fees. Photos from Vista Archives.
Many students attending public colleges and universities are surprised to learn that they are required to fund groups and events that they might find morally or politically unacceptable. The money to fund those organizations and events often comes from student activities fees.
The University of Central Oklahoma’s annual budget spent on student organizations for 2016-2017 reached $773,377. The annual budget spent on student entertainment and education activities for the same year, reached more than $1.6 million.
“Just like you are paying for your class, you are paying to have all these experiences that are going help you excel as a person, and develop you as a person,” Ellen Engh said, assistant director at Student Engagement for Campus Activities.
Students on many campuses across America are charged with campus activities fees that allocate money for groups with a wide array of beliefs. Some of these include groups composed by Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, feminists, vegetarians, anarchists, conservatives, and LGBT groups.
According to UCO’s student activity fund budget, some of these student organizations include Bronchos for Christ, Christians on Campus, Muslim Student Organization, Students Alliance for Equality (SAFE), Women’s Outreach Center, Netflix and Pizza and many others.
“I feel like, maybe the religious organizations should have their own separate part. That way, it’s divided and we know which one we are funding,” said Zayn Taleghni, a Biology student at UCO.
Campus activity fees were implemented across colleges and universities over a century ago, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Students on many campuses decided to assess a fee that would fund extracurricular activities and events not covered by tuition. The belief was that certain activities and facilities would enhance student’s life on campus.
Campus activities were first implemented to fund diploma and matriculation fees, formal entry processes for universities, as well as heating and lighting of university halls and public rooms. Nowadays, campus activities fees don’t only fund organizations, but also events that, unfortunately, a lot of students don’t have the chance attend.
According to a requisition acquired for The Vista, UCO’s latest concert with rap artist Waka Flocka Flame cost $30,000 for an hour long show. The money allocated for the concert came from the Stampede Week and Student Programing Board; these two organizations received money from campus activity fees, according to the requisition.
Events provided by schools and paid for students, such as concerts, allow students to engage with the school and connect with other students. Even though the concert received great feedback from many students, others paid for it but weren’t able to attend it.
“[These events] bring the student body together, and it allows us to meet more of our fellow students. I think it’s a really cool way to get everybody involved, because everybody wants to go to them,” UCO student, Victoria Rosko said.
Engh said that research and theories have proven that extra-curricular activities and involvement outside of the classroom helps students succeed in college.
“There’s research proven that by getting involved [in extracurricular activities] you are more likely to excel in college and stay at the institution and love the school you are at, because you have that sense of ownership and pride. You help create amazing things happening there,” Engh said.