Western’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved an 11.4 percent reduction of mandatory student fee rates for fall quarter 2020. Taken together, the reductions amount to a decrease of $68.71 per full-time student over fees previously set for fall quarter.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has led Western to transition academic program delivery for fall quarter to a primarily remote teaching and learning environment, registered students’ ability to take advantage of some of the services, programs, and facilities that are supported by their mandatory fee dollars has been compromised.
Some of services supported by mandatory student fees, such as counseling and health and wellness services, continue to be offered remotely. In other instances, mandatory fee revenue supports truly “mandatory” expenditures for student-endorsed commitments, such as service on the bonds used to construct the Multicultural Center and Wade King Student Recreation Center, both approved by votes of the students.
The S & A fee supports student programs. For the Viking Union, Associated Students, and Campus Recreation (the areas that make up the new Student Engagement unit) services will be delivered at the level allowed to practice safe social distancing and to allow students to be in community through clubs and activities (primarily virtual in the fall), operate student government, ensure student programs and advocacy for WWU underrepresented students, and support civic and community engagement. In addition, building operations for continuity and maintenance are still required as well as opening of facilities to the level allowed by health and safety guidelines.
The technology fee supports access to laptops, cloud computing and critical software that is especially important in a remote learning environment. In addition, mandatory fees support some student employees who are able to continue working remotely. Fee changes are further constrained by a projected drop in student enrollment for fall quarter as a result of COVID-19. With fewer students paying fees, service areas are currently working creatively to continue delivering the important activities, infrastructure, and support that are essential to student success and the Western experience.
Trustees noted that students and families are understandably concerned that the decreased level of service is not being reflected in a decrease in mandatory student fees. Western administrators said through the use of reserves and other forms of one-time cost-reductions that mandatory student fee levels can be reduced for fall quarter without compromising the delivery of essential services or defaulting on bond covenants.
“It is an incredibly difficult balancing act,” said Melynda Huskey, WWU vice president of Enrollment and Student Services.
Student Trustee Hunter Stuehm asked whether other public universities in the state were reducing fees in a similar manner.
Faye Gallant, Western’s executive director of Budget and Financial Planning, said there is not a common approach on student fees by the other public universities. However, none of the public universities in the state, including Western, are changing tuition for fall.
For more information, see: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/16%20Approval%20of%20Fall%20Quarter%202020%20Mandatory%20Student%20Fees%20%2B%20Att%20A.pdf. For more on the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday see https://westerntoday.wwu.edu/news/board-of-trustees-recap-for-aug-21-2020.