A More Open Fee-Setting Process

Collin Wojciechowski ’13, political science and media and communication studies, served as the sole student member of the University System of Maryland’s governing Board of Regents, 2011-2012. Saqib Ashraf ’13, chemical engineering, is a member of UMBC’s new Student Fee Advisory Board (SFAB).

Collin WojciechowskiWhen I began my term as the student member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in July of 2011, students from nearly every campus in the USM understood that they paid mandatory fees but had no idea what this money was actually paying for. A student would stop me when I was visiting their campus and say something to the effect of, “I just saw my bill! I just saw my athletics fee! What is this money paying for?” It was with this issue in mind that I worked for the majority of my term to amend the Board’s policy on student fees and create what you know today as the UMBC Student Fee Advisory Board (a similar committee exists now on each campus in the USM).

My intention in creating these committees was not to freeze or reduce student fees, which are a necessary part of our education. Without them we would not have buses that run properly, computers that turn on, and the SGA would have no money to distribute to student orgs. Instead, my goal was to make students an active part of the conversation by making sure they understood their bill each semester and had a say in what was on it. Effective shared governance is shared governance that has open lines of communication, and that is precisely what my policy changes aimed to foster.

I am proud to say that at my last meeting as a Regent, in June 2012, the fee amendments passed, but that is simply the beginning of the work that needs to be done. It is now up to the student body to take advantage of this opportunity and speak up about the fees.–Collin Wojciechowski

Saqib HeadshotThis academic year, full-time undergraduates pay $2,679 in mandatory fees, and part-time undergraduates pay a prorated share based on the number of credits they take.  These fees support athletics, technology, the Commons, transportation, auxiliary facilities and student activities.  Fees for full-time undergraduates are projected to increase to a total of $2,772 for the next academic year, but the increase and its components are not set in stone.

The Student Fee Advisory Board (SFAB)–the committee created by the UMBC administration, Student Government Association and Graduate Student Association through Collin’s initiative–already has met with administrators overseeing each of the six mandatory fees. Now undergraduates have a chance to weigh in through an online survey that includes detailed information about the fees and the programs, services and facilities they support. If you’re a UMBC undergraduate, please take a few moments to share your perspective! The survey closes March 25th. Survey responses, which are completely anonymous, will inform the SFAB’s recommendations about fee levels and uses for next year.Saqib Ashraf

Contact the authors: Collin Wojciechowski at cwoj1@umbc.edu, Saqib Ashraf at ashrafs1@umbc.edu.