Sunday, May 14, 2006

Incidental Fee Increases

Hello, fellow graduate slaves. I have finally amassed the important information about our 2006-2007 incidental fee increase. As some of you may know, the sticker price for being a graduate student at OHSU is on the rise. What a shock! But the rise was significant this year and the faculty have been nearly unanimous in refusing to pay for the increase, which would have left us with a $153/term bill. This, fortunately, did not happen -- this year. An agreement was made to shelve the issue until next year while the Dean's Office pays for the fee increase this year. Currently your P.I.s pay $165/term toward our incidental fee. This is mandatory. Next year's increase is expected to nearly double the fee at $318/term. Why such a huge increase, you ask? The answer is of course complicated, but it can be summed up in one word: MARCH. MARCH is the new fitness and health center being built on OHSU's South Waterfront Campus. As you can imagine, this fitness center is much larger (except for the pool) and "healthier" than our current functional, yet slightly dilapidated location. And because the fitness center will be moving to MARCH by the end of this year (unless the tram project implodes), the current fitness center will be given to the OHSU Student Council to be renovated into a student union. And this also costs money. What a shock! What is most upsetting about our incidental fee increase is how OHSU increased this mandatory tax without notifying and consulting with students or faculty -- in other words, taxation without representation. It is important to mention that the faculty's anger and refusal to pay for the increase was directed entirely at OHSU, and not at graduate students. The faculty understand that the incidental fee is mandatory and ultimately determined by OHSU. But this issue is not dead. The Dean's Office will pay our increases this year only. After that time has expired, you can expect an echo of vociferous opposition from faculty as it becomes increasingly expensive to finance graduate students. And if it becomes too expensive, some faculty may decide against taking on graduate students altogether. At the very least, this would reflect very poorly on OHSU as a competitive university for graduate study.

While I do support development of a student union, I voted against our fee increase largely to vote against OHSU's commandeering behavior toward its students. I did vote for stipulations that will require OHSU to communicate with its students before any future funding maneuvers. The link below is a Powerpoint presentation compiled by Brad Dreifuss, who headed this year's incidental fee taskforce. This presentation provides a thorough explanation of what our incidental fee pays for, and why those fees have increased. You can contact Brad Dreifuss via the "Find Your Representatives" link on the right column is you would like more information.

It is important that graduate students communicate with student council and OHSU about this very important issue. If no opposition is heard, expect similar fee increases in the future, of which you may have to pay out of your stipend.

Until next time,

CLICK HERE for the Incidental Fee Presentation

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