Tag: students

JSU students quickly move out of housing, some detail a ‘stressful’ experience

Logan Irwin, Correspondent

Students at Jacksonville State University received word on Wednesday, April 1 that university housing would close for the remainder of the spring semester, effective April 7. 

Continue reading “JSU students quickly move out of housing, some detail a ‘stressful’ experience”

JSU generated over $8.3 million in fees from Fall 2018, Spring 2019 semesters

By Scott Young

News Editor

Each student who was enrolled at Jacksonville State University in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters paid a $200 ‘general university fee’ on top of numerous other small fees and hundreds of dollars in tuition per credit hour.

Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director, provided a breakdown of the general university fee from the JSU Controller’s office as well as information about how the allocations are decided.

Of the $200 fee, $60 went to transportation, $40 to student health, $35 to university recreation, $35 to the library, $15 to classroom improvements, $10 to capital planning and facilities and $5 to ‘special projects’. The special project for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was labeled ‘Marching Southerners’.

For Spring 2019, the university initially allocated $35 of the $200 fee to university recreation. Lockette later stated that the $35 for university recreation allocated in Spring 2019 was “re-allocated internally in the spring to capital projects to support technology upgrades in the classroom.” However, the $35 for university recreation in Fall 2018 was not reallocated.

“The Tuition and Fees Committee makes a recommendation each year to the President and VP of Business and Finance [James Brigham] and those recommendations are reviewed and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at the April trustee meeting,” said Lockette.

According to Blake Hunter, the coordinator of Institutional Research at JSU, during the fall semester of 2018, there were 8,479 students enrolled at JSU and in the spring semester of 2019 there were 7,726 students enrolled.

On average, Jacksonville State University students pay just shy of $4,000 for tuition each semester, not including fees. The JSU ‘general university fee’ generated an estimated $3,241,000 from both Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 alone, while the Recreation and Fitness Center fee, technology fee and student activity fee brought in an estimated $5,104,575.

Lockette went on to state that the fee allocations for the Fall 2019 semester have not been decided, and that fees for the upcoming semesters will be bundled and charged per credit hour.

Summer Fee Graphic
Infographic shows the 95 percent and 5 percent split of the $200 Summer General University Fund.

 

For the summer, students taking between one to three credit hours pay a $100 general university fee and students taking three or more credit hours pay $200. However, despite the $100 difference between these two fees, students who paid $100 and those who paid $200 both have equal access to the Recreation Center for the entire summer.

Lockette confirmed that during the Summer 2019 semester, 95 percent of the general university fee was allocated to the Recreation and Fitness Center, while the remaining five percent is allocated for student health.

Microsoft Word - Allocation of General University Fee.docx
JSU Public Relations Director Buffy Lockette confirmed the breakdown of the Summer General University Fee with this document above.

 

“As long as a student is taking at least one class, they will have access into the facility for the whole summer,” said Cecelia Chavez, the coordinator of facility operations for the Recreation Center.

Ashley Stephens, an art major at JSU who is taking summer classes, expressed dissatisfaction with the university over the two different fee amounts for equal summer Recreation Center access.

“As someone who is taking 11 hours and knowing that people taking only 3 hours don’t have to pay as much as me for fees makes me mad,” said Stephens. “It’s not fair to me and anyone who is trying to continue their education. This isn’t good for students’ pockets, and it’s not good for JSU’s image.”

Students like Emily Barfield, a cellular and molecular biology major, have no problem with allowing all summer students equal access to a facility she denotes as “necessary”.

“I’m taking six credit hours this summer so I paid the $200general university fee. I am not bothered that students who only paid $100 get to use the same recreation center that I get to use,” said Barfield. “On the other hand, I would be bothered if they just let any student, regardless if they were taking classes or not, use the recreation center after we had to pay the fee.”

The breakdown of where the general university fee is allocated is not readily available on the JSU website, nor is it reflected on students’ accounts when paying tuition and fees. The Chanticleer obtained the information by contacting Buffy Lockette, who then requested the information from the Controller’s office.

Stephens argues that the university should be more public with information pertaining to tuition and fees, including where the general university fee is allocated.

“I know most people want to know where their money is going,” said Stephens. “I think it can make the university look shady and like they’re withholding information from the students and their parents.”

Barfield sided with the university, citing the methods and practices of other universities.

“I looked into that [public accessibility of fee breakdown] with other universities and no other universities had anything about their fees or where the money actually goes posted on their websites,” said Barfield. “As much backlash as JSU has gotten from this recreation fee, I think they may even be less open about things moving forward.”

Lockette defends the university’s process of deliberating tuition and fee changes. She describes the Tuition and Fees committee as a “diverse mix of faculty, staff and students.”

“All trustee meetings are open to the public, the SGA President has a seat at the table, and the President’s office always sends a reminder email inviting the Chanticleer to attend,” said Lockette.

Editor’s note: Fees have been applied to student accounts for students who are already enrolled in fall classes. Starting in fall of 2019, the “General University Fee” covers all other fees (excluding individual program fees.) For students taking more than six hours this coming semester, the flat rate is $700, which is an $113 increase from previous semesters (based on an average student’s 12 hour semester.) For more information on the fall fees, visit JSU’s Office of Student Accounts page at http://www.jsu.edu/bursar/fees/index.html and look for a new article from The Chanticleer soon regarding the changes to the fee structure.

Rec Center Response: Survey shows students approve, despite some reservations

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 11.38.40 AM.png
(Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief


It’s been a month since the long-awaited opening of the new crown-jewel of Jacksonville State University’s campus, JSU’s new Recreation and Fitness Center.

All University channels paint a well-deserved pride in the opening of the facility, praising the versatility the RFC provides for Gamecock students.

“The center is a game-changer for the university, both as a recruitment tool for future students and as a hub of campus life for current students. More than a place to exercise, the center serves as a gathering space for students – featuring an outdoor patio, video game lounge, ping-pong tables, snack bar and study areas.”

That’s how Jacksonville State University’s new Recreation and Fitness Center is described by the University in a press release announcing the opening of the brand new social center.

“We in University Recreation are very excited for JSU students,” Joanna Prociuk, Director of University Recreation at Jacksonville State said about the opening. “The Rec Center will become the prime location for students to hangout, build relationships, relax, and be active while on-campus.”

But how do the students feel?

With students having access to the Recreation and Fitness Center since the soft opening on January 14, the perception of the Rec Center has had the chance to be re-evaluated by the primary target of the facility.

A survey conducted by The Chanticleer finds that, after the opening of the RFC, the majority of the are happy with the new facility, despite some concerns about the operation of the facility still remaining.

Of the participants who responded to the survey, 75.8 percent said they had a positive or highly positive view of the new facility, and 58.6 percent said that their feelings toward the rec center became more positive after experiencing the amenities for themselves.

“I think it’s an awesome addition to the campus!” one anonymous participant commented. “People complain about the fee but I think it’s somewhat reasonable for what all it has to offer.”

While the excitement around the opening of the RFC is certainly echoed by some students around campus and is evidenced by the droves of people that can be found utilizing the new space at most hours of the day, the new center has been subjected to its fair share of detractors in the student body.

The Recreation and Fitness Center has been mired in controversy and unrest amongst some conflicted students since the conception of the plans.

The decision by the university to implement a mandatory fee for students to help fund the rec center has been called into question by some since plans were first announced for the new facility back in January of 2017. Jacksonville State Students are now required to pay a $190 fee per semester to pay for the Rec Center.

Despite the overall positive outlook, the mandatory fee still seems to be a hang-up for many.

Of the responders, 47.1 percent said their feelings toward the mandatory fees were negative.

“If it wasn’t a $190 fee, I may feel less negatively,” one student said. “But for that much, I can join a regular gym and pay monthly rather than all at once.”

The fee, whether too high or just not worth it for students who are uninterested in using the facility, gives many reservations. 74.7 percent of surveyed students said that they would either be unlikely to pay the fee to receive access to the facility or that they were unsure if they would, while just 25.3 percent said the benefits of using the RFC outweighed the cost.

“I think the students should have the option to pay the fee or not,” a JSU senior majoring in Finance commented. “I will be using the RFC at least 5 days a week, so I think it’s an amazing price for all that is offered. I just know many students will probably not use it one time (especially commuters/online only students). So, there should be a different option for those students.”

Most students share a similar view that the fees themselves are not unreasonable, but the inability to opt out of them is a problem, especially for students who will not be using the RFC very often.

“I think a fee is perfectly acceptable,” said a senior pre-nursing major. “I disagree that it should be mandatory for online students who may not even have the opportunity to use it. The fact that students who will never use the center (for whatever reason) have to pay for it will always be a point of contention. I think JSU will eventually have to address that part of it.”

Some students have even questioned the need for the facility at all, with upgrades and improvements seemingly needed at other buildings on campus.

“I believe this was an unnecessary build that the students were forced to pay for,” said one responder. “There were greater priorities than building a new fitness center. There are many buildings on campus that still have not even been touched after being damaged by the tornado. I think the campus priorities should be revisited and we as the students should not be forced to pay for these. Because of this I have been deterred from completing additional degrees through this school.”

The disastrous tornado of March 19, 2018 further sullied the population’s feelings toward the RFC, as it was no longer the only location on campus with droves of construction workers, fences and equipment surrounding its perimeter.

Still other students raised additional legitimate concerns about the Recreation and Fitness Center in their comments.

“I think the fee should have been announced to incoming freshmen,” said one comment. “Everyone talked about the new Rec center and how it was going to be like UAB’s rec center on tours but never mentioned a mandatory fee (UAB doesn’t have one), which makes the rec center more negative, especially for people who can’t make it to classes and work out on their own.”

The university, however, did take into account the opinions of students throughout the process of designing, building, and implementing fees for the RFC.

“When I arrived to JSU in April 2018 I was immediately impressed by how closely JSU administrators listened to students in the design of the facility,” Prociuk says. “Students and Student Government have been involved in the planning, fee decision, and decision-making process for the Recreation and Fitness Center since the project’s beginning in 2016. Input from thousands of students was collected via surveys, focus groups, and meetings.”

Prociuk says that the University is listening to the concerns of students, and encourages all forms of feedback as the RFC continues to serve students.

“We will continue to work with students as we expand our programs and operations,” Prociuk says. “I’d encourage students to continue to voice their opinions about all of campus life to their representatives in Student Government. Student Government is well positioned to advocate on their behalf.”