Accountability needed for dollar
Re: Fee disclosure concern raised by parent, Oct.7
To the Editor:
In response to your article, I felt compelled to respond on behalf of graduate students at UWO.
First, it is too bad The Gazette did not discuss the SOGS presentation to the Board of Governors which only indirectly raised the issue of fees, but brought to light the overall issue of "Value for Money." With rising tuition costs and questions about ancillary fees levied by student organizations or UWO administration, the fact is: we all need to be accountable for the quality of service provided in the academic "service" and on-campus businesses in the face of tuition deregulation.
Yes, we all need to be accountable (which student organizations are, through our councils and referenda), but the key is, if YOU the student don't like the price you pay for your education and services at Western, then SPEAK UP and GET INVOLVED!! Tell your student representatives what you want to see or what you don't like. Don't let the administration or Board of Governors gain access to the day-to-day operating budgets of the USC, SOGS or MBAA student organizations, but start participating and voicing your opinion on all the additional fees we pay.
SOGS has been raising these issues for years. A 1996 survey of grad students showed that 98 per cent do not use the ombudsperson; 93 per cent do not use the UWO legal services; 92 per cent do not use the psychological services; 78 per cent do not use off-campus housing; 96 per cent do not use the Landlord/Tenant Mediation office and only three per cent of grad students care to support the Intercollegiate Athletics programs. There are many more offices we pay fees to support, but the issue is:
Our fees can be significantly reduced by outsourcing the many peripheral services to local London agencies. We do not need on-campus facilities to duplicate services which add an additional $200+ to our fee bill. This needs to be done at the student organization level, as well on the UWO administration side. Student organizations are not the only ones that levy "questionable" fees or need accountability, but we must be treated like the independent "businesses" that we are and not be subjected to a paternalistic process that Mr. George Burns advocated, including hand-holding and open-budgets for Board scrutiny. Students have a full say in the services and related costs, but we need to have some serious discussion on what we need, want and what we're willing to pay for.
We all want answers and need to be transparent in our management of student funds: SOGS and the USC have also been demanding that of UWO fees for years. The answer is we should all look at our operations with an eye for reorganization and fiscal responsibility and sometimes that means outsourcing or ceasing to offer services not used enough by the majority of students to warrant maintaining those offices, departments or services.
I offer this response because The Gazette failed to see Mr. Burns' main point: the USC and UWO do not necessarily need to keep expanding and by taking an inventory, heeding the call of either parents or students, look to paring down and decreasing services. That way, we can bring the total fee bill to a reasonable level. It means asking hard questions and making sound choices. SOGS believes it can be done we did it this summer and continue to strive to reduce our costs while bringing those "services" and "programs" students want to the fore, while simply halting those that are not needed, not used or have outlived their time.
Asking questions is good. We are all better served when we do.