Money Down the Drain

This might be a bit harsh, however I believe that the Academic Enhancement Program itself is so offensive that it deserves a stern response. SGA unanimously rejected the Academic Enhancement Program, but a few greedy administrators are practically drooling at the prospect of an additional $48 million each year. Help us put an end to their madness by reminding them that the vast majority of students are opposed to this, and the university only exists to serve our needs. The most important links are spelled out as a full URL. Please don't continue reading without pausing to read those.


Money going down the drain (larger)


Amid a state budget crisis that is forcing UCF to cap enrollment and freeze hiring faculty and staff, it's always nice to know that UCF is using our money wisely.

Like paying President Hitt $450000/year plus benefits so his salary can stay competitive with other university presidents, who must, in turn, raise their own salaries to stay competitive, and so forth ad nauseum.

Then there was the $849000 that UCF literally threw away by firing Kruczek despite his contract, and the $2.6 million they paid to break athletic conference contracts (source). Or the $700000 - $1.1m/year they have to pay Kruczek's replacement (O'Leary), who made a dazzling entrance with five straight losses.

Or there's the expensive stadium that the Board of Trustees unanimously approved despite concerns from residents, all for a team that (at the time) was famous for a 17 game loosing streak.

But whenever there's a budget "crisis", it's always nice that UCF has it's number one crutch to fall back on - fee increases. Like the $500/semester "academic enhancement" fee - which would not be covered by scholarships - to pay for new salaries. Like President Hitt's. "Otherwise that funding has to come from tuition", he said, as if it is some strange and horrible thing if our tuition pays for our classes. Shows where their priorities are. Read all about it here if you haven't yet:

http://media.www.centralfloridafuture.com/.../A.Backhanded.Tuition.Increase-2756025.shtml


And then read how the Future changed its tune about this same fee now that UCF's precious budget might be at stake:

http://media.www.centralfloridafuture.com/.../Differential.Tuition.Bill.Passed-2919988.shtml


Compare the tone of the two articles. Notice how they even avoided calling it the "Academic Enhancement Fee" after all their bad press ("We believe this fee will happen, so if it does, make sure Hollinger has done everything in her power to oppose and stop it."). You are left with the impression that this fee is now a good thing, especially after reading their last sentence ("are we willing to pay the piper to be on the same playing fields as UF? To be on the same playing fields as FSU? Do we want to?").

If Hitt really cared about funding, he'd voluntarily lower his own salary. Whatever happened to good leaders like Washington who refused their own salary because they honestly cared more about their job? Now it's just "same playing field" this and "same playing field" that. Just as our university compares fees and salaries to other universities, they compare theirs to ours. We raise ours; they raise theirs. Then we raise ours again. And who suffers in the end? We do, with additional fees.

Want more? How's this: Did you know that you could buy sodas on campus for 45 cents in 2001? They raised that a nickel to pay for all the vending machine burglaries:

http://media.www.centralfloridafuture.com/.../The-Nickel.And.The.Damage.Done-293461.shtml


"Replacing products and machines made up only part of the cost, said John Pittman, associate director of business services. 'After all of that, the insurance went up, so we had to raise prices to compensate,' Pittman said."

Or so he said. Turns out they just wanted to fund private parties:

http://media.www.centralfloridafuture.com/.../State.Says.10.Convenience.Fee.Is.Prohibited-519379.shtml


Coincidence? That five cent increase needs 106420 purchases to fund the amount they used for private parties. Net profit was supposed to go into an account to promote higher education. Kind of like the Academic Enhancement Fee. Of course you'd think UCF would do something to fix this abuse. They did. They changed policy so that this would be an acceptable use of our money.

Talk about burglary.

And that's not the worst of it. Read the headline! The Florida Auditor General found that UCF should not charge a "convenience fee" to pay tuition online, and that the university's bank agreements actually prohibit UCF from charging such a fee. UCF therefore charges it anyway.

And get this: Campus administrators said the fee is "charged to provide remote locations for students to use as a convenience for paying fees". So essentially it's a fee that makes it convenient to pay other fees.. by providing "remote locations". Does UCF have an official off-campus Fee-Paying Centre that I just didn't hear about? Because I certainly don't recall them paying for my remote location.

If I've learned anything at UCF, it's that the administration lies through their teeth every time they talk about money. This whole "capping enrollment" is probably also just a facade - an attempt to force more money out of our legislature. This is especially likely because the expansion decision was made for every state university regardless of individual circumstances. They are holding all new students hostage to force a tuition increase. Never mind the fact that you get more tuition when you have more students paying. Give tuition power to the Board of Governors - in accordance with their lawsuit - and there won't even be a neutral party left to stop this nonsense.

Funding problems aren't anything new, and this really isn't the end of the world. UCF students have been open to slowing UCF's growth for years ("The budget cuts will also slow growth, which may not be so bad at UCF" [2003]). Now that it's happened, the Board of Trustees have successfully gotten people whining about how terrible it is. Please. Whatever happened to quality being better than quantity? It would be nice if UCF was known for being good rather than just being large. Do we really need everyone: (amusing example)

I also take issue with the hundreds of dollars in "health" fees that I have never once benefited from - I love paying for someone else's accidents. UCF would even charge me for flu shots that are free with my own doctor/insurance, so there really is no point in me paying any "health" fee.

The funnest part comes when UCF asks alumni like me for huge donations once they think we've settled into our respective jobs. I even have a transcript of the conversation they're supposed to have. We're going to have a lovely chat when that happens.

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