Every year, as September draws near, students gather around their computers to see how much school will cost them this year. From books to student union fees, from tuition to parking passes, it seems that every year the cost is higher and higher (in part due to the 2% tuition increase per year). This opinion has been voiced a few times on UBCO Confessions, the popular Facebook page dedicated to anonymous confessions by UBCO students. A recent post stated that parking passes have gone up by 61.7% in the last four years, from $272 to $440. Another post questioned why students were paying to the Canadian Federation of Students when the SUO had recently left the CFS for another organization. The comments on this post discussed the fees present in tuition, including medical and dental, an athletics and recreation fee (without a free gym pass), and a U-Pass for public transit, even for students who drive.
There is no denying that some of these fees are understandable. The medical and dental insurance is a good option for those not covered by their parents, and there is a choice to opt out if you are otherwise covered. The U-Pass was voted on in a referendum with 91% student approval and benefits many students every year who use the transit system to get to and from campus. The student union’s fees help run, as expected, our Student Union, which works on our behalf of the institution. Some though, are exorbitant. Why do we, as students, pay $152 for an Athletics and Recreation fee that does not even include a gym pass? As one student pointed out in a comment, many other schools offer a gym pass included in those fees. Another well founded complaint was the mistake made by whomever stated that we are paying $18 to the Canadian Federation of Students, after we were told the SUO had left that organization.
One of the biggest issues with fees, however, is parking permits. As seen in the UBCO confessions post, parking permits have gone up to above $400. As mentioned, there was a 61.7% increase between the amount this year, and the cost four years ago — an insane increase for a product that cannot really improve.
The crux of this issue is less about the amount, although for students, money is a precious commodity. The main point is that we are unaware of where our dollars are going and how our fees benefit us. So let’s start asking those questions. Where does our $157 goes when we pay our athletics and recreation fee? How does that money benefit me as a student? Where does my $440 go when I purchase a parking spot, and how has the product improved as the cost rises? Why has the cost risen at such a high percentage? Why am I being told that I pay money to the CFS when the SUO is no longer part of that? As students we deserve to know where our money goes, and we also have a responsibility to not simply complain, or post about where it goes, but take active steps to changing things if we are unhappy. Bottom line: these are our parking spots, our classes, our money, and our education.