Monday, February 01, 2010

What Up with That?

Pardon the interruption for everyone searching for the recurring Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch with Kenan Thompson called "What Up with That?" but this is one of those kind of "What Up with That?" situation. I can hear Kenan singing as I type.

At the University of Louisville, off-campus students are currently forced to pay $175 for a meal plan that they don't necessarily use. What up with that? Lawmakers are taking action to stop these sort of fees.
State lawmakers from Louisville have filed a bill that would prohibit public universities and colleges from implementing mandatory athletic and meal plan fees for commuter students.

The legislation, filed by three Louisville lawmakers, is in reaction a controversial plan that was implemented this fall by U of L. The university now requires all undergraduate students to have a meal plan, including commuters students who must pay $175 a semester.

“I think families and students can plan on paying for what their academic costs are, and that’s what they should be responsible for,” said state Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor. “If students want to do anything above that, they can, but for kids who are planning and scrimping it’s bad enough that tuition keeps going up and up.”

State Reps. Mary Lou Marzian and Tim Firkins, both Democrats, also have signed on to the bill.

U of L students are expected to hold a press conference in support of the bill Monday.

The legislation would allow public universities and colleges to set fees that would help cover instructional and operations costs, including application, tuition, library, and residential housing and technology fees. However, it would prevent schools from collecting fees for athletics or meals from commuter students unless students voluntarily requested to participate in those programs.

Sana Abhari, a U of L senior majoring in political science, said students are hoping the bill will result in the repeal of the mandatory meal plan.

“I know of a big group of students who come to class and go home and never spend more than $10 a semester” on food and drinks, she said.

Abhari said students are already dealing with the high cost of education in the form of tuition, books and other living costs. She also said that the prices for on-campus food are inflated compared with what students can buy at local off-campus businesses. The university also did not seek enough student input on the proposed fee, she said. “Students are not very happy,” Abhari said.
Currently, Louisville is the only college in the state that forces such a fee on off-campus students.

Here is the status of the bill in the General Assembly.

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