I do not need to tell you how different things are compared to a year ago. You all exist in the same world I do, and while we may not have the same experiences, it’s undeniable that our world and definition of “normal” has changed.
The changes to our new normal extend beyond wearing a mask on campus and awkward ice breakers over Zoom — they are also affecting how we’re experiencing college. This fact has been solidified over the past several months, not only by the news but also by the number of pets participating in online classes.
I’m not going to dwell on the fact that, currently, we’re missing out on Yote Floats, student tailgates and eating lunch in the MUC with our friends because I know we all want and miss those things.
Since we are missing those things, however, our college experience just became fundamentally different from that of those who graduated before us. Even though college life is different now, some important things remain unchanged.
As I’m sure many of you have noticed, you’ve gotten a bill for tuition. If you haven’t noticed, I’m sorry I was the one to break the news. Regardless, the bill exists and an itemized version of it is available to you.
One of the first things I noticed looking at my bill was five charges for $163.50, which totals $817.50, classified under General Activity Fee. I was frustrated.
With no football, no volleyball, limited student events, and the stress of a pandemic, I didn’t understand why the dollar amount remained unchanged from last year. My first instinct was to write out a tweet and demand answers, but I wanted a real answer, so I reached out to the university’s business office.
I received an email detailing how these fees are mandatory Board of Regents fees and cover everything from sports to counseling services to student health. While they may look different from other years, student-led events and certain campus activities and programs are still accessible to us.
The short answer to my question: just because fall sports are postponed doesn’t mean the money isn’t being used to help improve student health’s response to COVID-19 testing or to provide student activities on a different medium.
Yes, we are paying quite a bit of money, and yes, it’s difficult to correlate that with direct benefits for us, but the overall appearance seems to be that the money is used with our interests in mind. Maybe I was wrong to feel frustrated by the invoice, or maybe I should still be upset by the charge.
Either way, the best thing I could do was ask the question. As a student of USD, I ask you to do the same. You need to ask questions when you’re unsure during these times. Whether they’re directed at your professors, university administration or politicians, ask your questions and demand accountability and answers. Those answers are the only way we’ll gain an understanding of what is going on in our world.