StuGov to vote in support of, or against possible $15 student fee increase


The sun shines on the Memorial Union after a thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon on Nov. 11, 2015. 

Alex Connor

A resolution addressing a possible $15 student fee increase for deferred maintenance on the Memorial Union will be voted on by the senate Wednesday.

The resolution – which is separate from the multi-phase $72 student fee increase proposed last year to improve the Memorial Union – strictly addresses facility improvements rather than an overhaul of the space.

The resolution is strictly expressing support, or lack thereof, of the fee. 

The Special Student Fee and Tuition Committee has already expressed support of the $15 fee, which if approved by President Ben Allen and also the Board of Regents, will result in the renovation of the fourth through sixth floors and also address capital renewal needs within the Memorial Union.

“This is not even close to the referendum that was voted down by the students,” said Vice Speaker Cody Woodruff. “This is the deferred maintenance only to keep the building going.”

The student fee increase, if approved by all parties where it stands, would be enacted in the fall of 2018. The $15 would be on top of the $27.50 in fees already paid for by students for Memorial Union upkeep. 

“This proposed potential fee increase is really focused on the critical needs of the facility,” said Corey Williamson, associate director of the Memorial Union. “[It] is essentially addressing the building infrastructure – or what I would call the bare bones of the building.”

Issues assessed by the Special Student Fee and Tuition Committee, as outlined in a presentation addressing the proposal, includes more than 230 building components past their life expectancy. 

Priorities include the fourth through sixth floors, the second floor men’s restroom, plumbing and drain piping systems, air handling units and elevator modifications. 

The reason why students are be asked to foot part of the bill for these renovations is the historical component of how the Memorial Union received its start in the first place. 

“The MU was originally built by students, for students,” Woodruff said. “It was built in 1928 to memorialize World War I victims, Iowa State students that went and fought in the war. The students wanted it and they used this fee to originally build it. 

“It’s [since] been the students job to maintain that building.”

The increase, if passed by the Regents, will be adding to the already jumping costs of public higher education in Iowa, with four tuition increases in the past two years and a proposal made by Allen in August suggesting a 7 percent annual tuition increase for in-state residents. 

“We understand that we want to keep tuition at a low cost, especially when we’re raising a few fees at a relatively minimal amount – but that adds up. And we’re very aware of that,” Woodruff said. 

However, compared to fees dedicated to the Memorial Union at the other two regent universities – University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa – Iowa State student’s pay comparatively less. 

“The University of Northern Iowa union receives approximately $50 per student per semester,” Williamson said. “And then, the University of Iowa [Memorial Union] receives… approximately $75 per student per semester.”

As for how the senate is expected to vote Wednesday, Woodruff said he feels better about it compared to a few months ago. 

“The issue last spring was senators, especially new ones, felt they did not have time to talk about this with their constituents,” Woodruff said. “So, over the summer I informed them of what was going on and what this resolution would look like if it hit the floor.”

If the resolution is voted down, the proposed increase will still make its way to Allen, but without the backing of the Student Government. 

“I hope we can get it passed, that way we can have a unified message sent to President Allen that this is something our university needs to do in order to maintain the building for our students,” Woodruff said.