Letter: ISU to students: no refunds

Iowa State leaders decline to comment on universitywide “sickout” on Sept. 15.

Brennan Goodman

Glancing through your U-Bill, you may have noticed a disclaimer informing you that no refunds will be made on about $500 worth of mandatory fees, regardless of educational delivery. Iowa State administration will have students believe they are committed to a full, in-person semester, but case studies from North Carolina, Michigan State, etc. and the below chart are convincing evidence to me that online is right around the corner. (Why the façade of hope? We may never know.)

Last semester, Iowa State refused to refund mandatory fees, an upsetting decision considering other Regent universities prorated theirs. However, even after a summer’s worth of planning, our administrators are still unable or unwilling to find an equitable solution for students.

If we return online, students will not be using CyRide, students will not be using State and Lied gyms, nor the Memorial Union. Mandatory fees, we are told, are assessed whether we use the services or not; however, at least prior to the pandemic, we had the choice to use them.

Once again, students will be holding the bag for the university. With our mandatory fees collected, university administration can continue to funnel money into services we will not be using because the university model is broken. The crux of it is federally guaranteed student loans and the lack of state funding. Without this funding and zero risks in their loans, universities spend on the extracurricular services and experiences to attract students rather than having to worry about the outcomes of the educational one.

Look no further than the literally shiny Student Innovation Center and the perfectly green fields east of Jack Trice while there are still millions of deferred maintenance costs from our existing buildings. Compare the salaries of my lecturers and professors to the six-figure salaries of administrators and the directors of these services.

Universities claim to address wealth inequality while simultaneously promoting within its ranks. The pandemic threatened this model, but at least at this time, Iowa State has shored up those mandatory fees to weather the storm. You can make do with your Instagram fitness classes and your $2 refund on student activity fees, or you can email and call our student leaders and administration, demanding a refund schedule that balances the needs of students and the university.