Proposed student technology fee explained

Ask most any student at Washington State University Vancouver what their biggest complaints about technology on campus are, and you will most likely hear about the quality of Wi-Fi and cellular service on campus. To address these complaints, the ASWSUV Senate recently voted to approve a student technology fee. The proposed fee then was sent to Chancellor Netzhammer for distribution to campus administration, faculty and staff.

ASWSUV sought student opinion on the fee by sending emails to student leaders, as well as hosting a public survey on CougSync. For the past three years, over 1,000 students participated in a survey studying the quality of campus technology services. The survey revealed that the top technology related complaints of students were related to Wi-Fi, cellular service, free printing and access to IT or a technology aide.

Finding solutions to student complaints will come with costs. Having specialists come out to survey the quality of cellular service can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The fee imposed on students cannot exceed $125 per student per Washington Codes. The proposal accepted by the Board of Regents was for a fee of $20 per semester. This is the same rate charged per semester for students at WSU Pullman.

At first glance, observers may note that the technology fee does not seem very direct or encompassing of the technology issues faced on campus.

Samy Reel, ASWSUV vice president, explained the fee and why it is in place. The first part of the fee targets the top complaints made by students. A portion of the fee will go towards providing 20-50 free pages worth of printing per student, though the exact number is still to be determined. The fee will also go towards improving cellular service on campus and increasing outdoor Wi-Fi. The fee will allow students to purchase a larger variety of software and programs to be used on their personal computers.

Revised Code of Washington 28B.15.820 specifies that 3.5% of revenues generated from a technology fee must be deposited in the institutional financial aid fund.

Members of ASWSUV will be put on a committee that will advocate for students regarding their perspectives and opinion.  “A lot of the work that we do isn’t always paid, but we do it because we care about advocating for our students. It’s a 24 hour job,” Reel said.

Based on 2016-17 undergraduate enrollment with 664 part time students and 2,223 full time students, a fee of $20 per semester would generate approximately $115,500 towards the technology fund and approximately $4,000 towards scholarships.

Two years ago a similar senate resolution was passed to address technology issues. “Now with the passing of the senate resolution this year I am able to continue to advocate for needs that were not being met,” Reel said. After gaining approval from the ASWSUV senate, the bill passes to campus administration to determine how best to allocate the funds and bring about technology changes in the future.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from a previous version that ran in the May 8, 2017 issue of The VanCougar. In that article, the technology fee was incorrectly valued at $25, not $20.

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