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WIU student fees to increase; BoT member wants equal offerings at both campuses

Rich Egger

Fees will rise next school year for new students at both of Western Illinois University’s campuses. But the increase at one campus is considerably higher than the other.

The fees will rise $2.84 per credit hour (3%) for the Macomb campus, while the increase is $18.00 per credit hour (29.84%) for the Quad Cities. Current fees are lower on the Quad Cities campus, and WIU is in the third year of a four-year process to bring the rate to the same level at both locations.

Board of Trustees (BoT) member Greg Aguilar, who is from the Quad Cities, said he’s okay with equalizing the fees, but emphasized the Quad Cities campus must get some value from the higher fees. He said far fewer activities and events are offered on that campus.

“We have far less here. I get it – we’re trying to get the Quad Cities fees up toward the Macomb fees. I can respect that as long as we start seeing the result of that here,” he said.

Kristi Mindrup, Vice President of Quad Cities Campus Operations, said the rec center there opened just this fall after they received input from the Student Government Association (SGA).

She said they continue to consult with students about how they would like to spend the fees.

“By the end of this semester we hope to have an updated priority list so that we can work with the next leadership of SGA to both develop the priorities and then to implement them as well in partnership with our Macomb colleagues,” she said.

Aguilar still had concerns.

“I’m not knocking you. I appreciate the effort. I like seeing the gym here. But the hours are very limited. It’s hard to even get in there. There’s not a professional staff person there. It’s not staffed,” Aguilar said.

“I do appreciate the efforts and we’re moving forward in the right direction. But if you go to Macomb, they have far more access to their facilities for a longer time. Professional people on campus run them. If we’re raising fees to make it more equal, we have to have equal services provided for the students here on this campus.”

But BoT member Polly Radosh said the recreation center in Macomb is not a large operation. She said it has just two full-time staff members, and that most classes along with supervision of the weight room are handled by graduate students.

“They do not have what you think they have at the rec center. They’re scraping by as well on very slim staffing,” she said.

BoT member Carin Stutz said trustees should allow campus leaders to tell them what they need instead of trying to prescribe what the campus should have.

“I would prefer that they come to us if they need something, and we definitely want to support that,” she said.

The university administration said fee revenue collected from Quad Cities students will be spent on student activities and events just for that campus.

As the discussion wrapped up, Aguilar said he appreciated the opportunity to speak his piece, and he joined the rest of the board in approving the fee increase.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.