With numerous departments at Kansas State University passing increases to departmental fees in recent years, the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee decided at a meeting Tuesday evening that it will no longer review proposals related to departmental fees until a proper process for evaluating such fees is created.
Provost Charles Taber suggested the temporary suspension, also known as a moratorium, after having already communicated the idea to the deans of K-State’s colleges.
The moratorium comes after the committee approved fee increases for the Institution of Personal Financial Planning and the Department of Apparel, Textiles and Interior Design.
The debate on departmental fees is at least a year old. In 2018, the committee raised concern over the precedent set by two fees, one for the Institute of Personal Financial Planning and another for the Department of Kinesiology. Some committee members expressed concern last year that the two fees would “open the floodgates” to other “frivolous” fee increases.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Ryan Kelly, co-chair of the committee, former speaker of the student senate and junior in communication studies, said the debate on departmental fees is related to a want for fairness among K-State’s many departments.
“A perception of what this could look like is that two departments in one college are getting a bunch of money because they’re doing great things, and if you decide that those two departments have need, then why aren’t you saying that the rest of the departments across campus have need?” Kelly said. “So really, it becomes an issue of, when you accept two of them, you set the precedent where you have to accept a lot more.”
During the meeting, committee members discussed the need to create a new fee evaluation process tailored to departmental fees.
“I think we’ve kind of gotten to a place where we’ve had a few now, and we don’t necessarily want to see more until we know exactly how we’re going to evaluate them year after year,” said Jordan Kiehl, co-chair of the committee, former student body president and senior in industrial engineering.
Kiehl said creating that new process would include conversations with people outside the committee while the university works toward implementing differential tuition, which could eliminate the need for departmental fees.
The committee also decided to move the deadline for fee proposal submissions to Dec. 1. This year, the deadline was Nov. 2. This was moved up from the previous deadline of Feb. 1.
“Talking to the deans, we’ve come to know that deadline might be a little too early for them to fully talk with students during that semester and make sure they’re getting all the input that they need to then put a proposal forward to the provost,” Kiehl said.
Taber said the new deadline of Dec. 1 will allow deans to create more detailed fee proposals as it provides more time for deans to communicate with and survey students.
“I appreciate the extra month for the deans, and I think you’ll be getting better information with that extra month for the proposals,” Taber said.