Paola Manzano | Assistant Opinion Director
While reminiscing about my exchange student experience, I’ve found an immense lack of consideration for a student’s financial stability.
I’m not sure anyone would like knowing their grade is fully dependent on money. But sometimes, that’s the way it is.
From paying over $100 dollars for class materials not included in the Panther Book Pack, to professors demanding transportation for assignments, these educational delights are a fraction of what some college students dealt with this semester.
As an English major, I always expect the myriad of books required for most classes. However, assuming that books are the educational base for all classes and majors comes at a price for us.
This is what I experienced on my first day of classes in Fall 2022, in a photography course that riddled me broke by the end of the semester. The “No Course Materials Required” phrase flashing in front of my face was clearly untrue.
This class made me spend over $100 on materials. Darkroom enlarging paper, storage pages for negatives, an unused archival binder and rolls of film for each assignment. Including money-draining, biweekly Uber trips to a local film lab to develop film rolls for each assignment. Taken with a film camera one is lucky to afford.
The film cameras available for rent were scarce. To be one of the unlucky few who didn’t catch the available rentals would result in more problems. I’d have to either purchase a film camera, or use a previously owned digital camera and risk a low participation grade.
If I had known taking this class would burn a hole in my pocket, I wouldn’t have taken it.
The lack of understanding towards our financial instability falls on professors with no empathy towards students. As well as the Panther Book Pack which, contrary to its definition, fails to provide all “required course materials by the first day of class.”
The failure of the Panther Book Pack keeps revealing itself through student experiences and the inability to comprehend materials don’t just consist of books.
Camila Aymerich, a business student at FIU, went through this issue in her marketing class. She was forced to subscribe to Marketplace Simulations, a simulation of over $50 that allows students to experiment with business strategies while building a new business. A requirement for a course completely revolved around this simulation. Although the simulator was previously available through the Panther Book Pack, her investment didn’t cover the main class material this semester.
Alejandra Carralero, a journalism major at FIU, also reveals how much she spent for her multimedia class. Over $70 in between subscriptions and materials: Tripods, mics, hard drives, Adobe subscriptions, LinkedIn memberships. None of these covered by the institution-sponsored, supposedly affordable “fixed rate of $20 per credit hour.”
The same disregard is present in classes that make transportation a necessity. I was expected at three off-campus events this semester, for just one class.
As college students, there are enough expenses that we need to worry about. Tuition, dorming, meal plan, books and the occasional necessities. Which is why the simultaneous combination of dorming and personal transportation is a luxury professors seem to take for granted.
Especially for exchange students like myself. I’m going back to Puerto Rico at the end of this month, taking with me a large amount of student debt. Something I’ve never experienced before in my home school. It feels as if they don’t consider my financial situation.
Making transportation go hand in hand with a satisfactory grade in a class suggests a detachment from reality. Most of us have rent due, and we can’t blow off potential rent money towards a class participation grade. College students are incapable of receiving the salary of a full-time worker, when even full-timers are having a hard time. 44% of students without cars would also say the same.
All of these issues are the reason there’s a university-wide indifference mentality towards students, infecting those responsible for our education. Class success depends on accepting extra expenses and it must be stopped.
Our courses don’t need to be the reason for an increase in student debt, because academic achievement should not rely on financial stability.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.