Letter: ‘Green’ fee privatizes school

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

It is one thing to recognize the dangers of ignoring climate change on the societal level, and an entirely different thing to accept personal responsibility for climate change and pay for it out of your pocket, in the face of record profits by the likes of Ameren and other industrial polluters.

When does the student body put its foot down and reject further increases in fees (and tuition for that matter)?


Let me tell you a story. In 1994, I started as an undergraduate at a mid-sized public university in eastern Kentucky not too far from here. And really, 1994 was not that long ago. As a freshman, my tuition was $709 per semester, and there were no fees.

That’s right, there were no fees. Tuition was so low at that time, I could pay for it by delivering pizza five nights a week. In about 1997, my school administration finally caught on to the growing Internet and started charging a $15 “computer usage fee” because everyone wanted online.

What are fees today? Nearing $1,000 a semester? Why has this happened? What has changed? I’ll tell you what changed. The mandate of the university shifted (with the political tides) from being one of a public institution to one of being a public business enterprise.

The state and federal governments began under-funding the university system, encouraged sports programs to “generate revenue” and forced them to raise tuition and introduce fees. That’s what happened.

Now universities are run by people who have political connections and are good at the business of running a publicly subsidized educational enterprise, instead of educators and people with loyalty to the idea of educating the working class and the bringing opportunities to the poor.

Does the $10 environmental fee (affectionately known as the “green” fee so you can swallow it without a glass of water) warrant such an outrage on my part? Absolutely.

This is just another step toward the privatization of our educational institution. Eventually, universities could be forced to generate their own revenue almost entirely, and you know who’s going to generate most of the funds required for all those new buildings, new “Ways,” new stadiums? You, in the form of fees, your $1,000 a semester ticket to campus.


The fact that GA United Treasury Secretary Shelly McGrath backs the proposed environmental fee only underscores the fact that any opposition to the policies of fee funding of university projects must occur independent of the student unions (Ms. McGrath was quoted in Wednesday’s article, but not properly identified as a GA United union official).

I can only assume that GA United backs the fee. I urge students to reject the “green” fee, but demand SIUC clean up its act anyway.

Charles Groce

doctoral student studying mathematics