OPINION: UNCW’s new campus fee increases are minuscule but necessary

Nicolas Ziccardi, Assistant Opinion Editor

Back in February, the UNC System board of governors approved an increase to student fees for health services and campus security starting in fall 2021.

From The Seahawk, “The health services fee will now be $246.07, an increase of $27.07, and the security fee will now be $60, an increase of $30. That brings the total increase to $57 for the 2021-2022 school year. Due to this increase, an extra $335,688 will be collected from students.”

Along with this, “there’s also increased discretion with what each campus can spend that [security fee] money on, and the major driving force behind that part of it was trying to fund more suicide intervention and prevention programs.” 

Surveys sent out by UNCW found 35.1% of students supported the increase and 40.5% opposed it, showing a heavily divided stance on the issue.

While this issue may not seem significant on the surface, the fee increase is emblematic of the cultural and political environment we are living in today. Arguably, the two largest topics that faced the nation last year and continue to do so are the pandemic and police reform, so it is hardly surprising that the university has chosen to raise an extra $335,688 for both. 

While students’ concerns about the fees are certainly warranted, it becomes clear that students’ legitimate concerns should be remedied upon closer examination.

First off, those health fees are largely administrative increases primarily going towards salary and benefit increases for medical staff and medical supply costs that have grown in the past year out of the new demand from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely safe to assume that most students attending the university are more than comfortable with a $27.07 increase in fees when it is going towards medical staff and supplies.

The more divisive facet of the increases comes from the security fees which focus on, “campus safety and security initiatives, including salaries, training and operations.” And while the health fee increase varies across each of the UNC System schools, “the security fee increased the same across each campus.” Though the frustration and hesitancy about increasing police presence is felt and justified, this move should be lauded by those concerned over failures in policing.

While we have seen the “defund the police” movement rise in response to the murder of Geroge Floyd, Breonna Taylor and several other police shootings of black men and women, polling from last month shows that just 18% of Americans are in support of the movement and only 28% of Black Americans support it. 

This should not come as a shock to most Americans who recognize the necessity of police in our country and believe that the answer to racial injustice and corruption is not going to be solved by decreasing funds to our law enforcement. The real issue is not the need for police but the need for better police. 

Law enforcement officers are by and large underprepared for the job they are assigned, paid not nearly as much as they should be and given little in the way of mental health checks or services that are desperately needed in their line of work. To best address this and guarantee that law enforcement are best equipped for the job they face and best equipped to address the issues minorities continue to face from police, an increase in funds is a necessity. 

While most students are unlikely to even realize that a fee increase has occurred, it is apparent that this is the right move for the university. They are taking largely popular positions and implementing them in as unobtrusive a way they can. And while work still needs to be done to address these issues further, this is a good start making campus as safe and productive as it can be.