Higher fees raise questions

Student Trustee Matthew Costello voted against the fee hike.

By Vyctoria Pantano
It has been more than five months since Fitchburg State University’s Board of Trustees voted to raise student fees by $500, and many students still don’t know what the extra money will be used for.
As it turns out, the money will be spent in two ways: half has been allocated to the general university fee, which is used for maintaining services on campus, while the other half will go to repay the $16 million bond for the renovation of the Hammond building . This increase has left some students upset about paying more money to the school.
“While I voted against the proposed fee increase, I understand the justification behind this recent vote during these tough economic times,” said Student Trustee Matthew Costello, who noted that he was the only board member to vote against the increase. “Due to the substantial decrease in state support allocated to this year’s budget, the university was faced with almost no options besides a fee increase in order to maintain the level of services offered to our students.”
While some seniors have complained that their portion of the fee increase pays for renovations they won’t be around to enjoy, Costello said this isn’t necessarily a valid concern. “This [first] phase is the only part of the renovation that was funded thus far and the only part covered by the fee increase,” Costello explained. This means that the current fee increases are only funding the first phase of the renovation, not the entire project.
And even students graduating in the spring will be able to enjoy some of the results of the renovation, Costello said. “Phase one of the renovation will be partially completed by next semester with the newly renovated Commuter Café.”
The Hammond Campus Center renovation consists of more than cosmetic changes,” Costello noted. “The justification for the renovation is not only to improve the design of the campus center, but is also for necessary repairs to the ‘guts’ of the building, which are wearing out and in need of replacement,” Costello said. “This includes … handicap access as well as the heating, ventilation, and electrical systems.”
And the work is far from over, Costello said. “Whether or not we will be able to fund or complete phases two or three of the renovation is questionable, depending on future financing,” he said. “It is also important to note that while the university has had to implement a fee increase, it has remained focused on granting significant financial aid to a large number of students to soften the fee increase.”