You’ve probably heard about the new “free” Golden Panther Express shuttle. The University has advertised it to students like it’s the cure for the common cold, and has even scheduled a ribbon cutting ceremony today.
But the shuttle isn’t free at all. Before a summer vote by the FIU Board of Trustees, the University’s governing body, students paid $2.50 for a one-way ride to MMC or BBC. The decision came after the student government councils of the Modesto Maidique and the Biscayne Bay campuses created a petition to raise the transportation fee in exchange for GPE rides without the bus drivers swiping IDs. The fee will increase by $4.45 for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, and $4.15 for summer, for a total of $89 in the Fall and Spring and $83 in the Summer.
While we’ve endorsed subsidized shuttle rides in the past, this decision should have been given more thought before the University decided to increase a student fee.
To us, it looks like we’re plugging a tire instead of replacing it.
Compared to the total number of enrolled students, those who petitioned for the fee increase are a small drop in the bucket: about 3000 student signatures, only 275 students of which responding to the SGA survey. This, according to SGC-BBC Vice President Mahalia Balfour, is supposed to be a “surprising” amount of feedback.
In other words, 0.053% signed the petition, and 0.004% participated in the survey, according to our math.
A change like this can set a dangerous precedent for future decisions at the University. A band of well-intentioned students can make a huge impact, even if that decision doesn’t benefit the majority of the student body.
We don’t object to the convenience — we object to the lack of transparency. Where, for example were the town halls this summer?
And while students don’t have to worry about whether they have enough money to ride the GPE when the bus driver swipes their OneCard, they’ll be paying for the shuttle anyways. Calling something “free” when it isn’t is really just lying to your students.
When it comes to students, FIU and the Board of Trustees should take more consideration into how they decide to distribute their money. This summer, the Athletics fee was raised and Activity and Service fees were lowered with no student input other than a few members of SGA. Although SGA says the change will balance itself out the budgets of organizations like Student Media are being continuously slashed, it bears reminding our readers that PantherNow and The Roar have been cut $100,000 in the last two years.
Raising student fees should require input from a majority, especially if that fee goes towards maintaining parking garages at a commuter school.
Even though an extra couple of bucks a semester won’t be a burden to most students, the precedent — this lack of transparency — may leave future students stranded.