WCU student fee changes would support athletics improvement, student center addition

CULLOWHEE — Proposed increases in student fees at Western Carolina University would provide additional support for the university’s 13 intercollegiate athletics teams and help finance a major expansion of its student activity center.

Student fees and charges at Western would increase by 7.65 percent effective fall semester 2000 under the fee schedule approved Wednesday (Dec. 1) at the quarterly meeting of the university’s board of trustees. The fees are subject to the approval of The University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Fees at Western for the next academic year are set as early as possible to give students and their families reasonable time to prepare for the financial requirements of attending the university.

With the proposed increases, costs to attend Western in 2000-2001 are expected to total about $5,524.30 per academic year for a typical in-state student living on campus and subscribing to the premium declining balance food service plan.

Among the approved fee increases:

— A $60 increase in the athletics fee, from $261.50 per year to $321.50. The increase will be used to address deficiencies identified in an interim report of a task force examining Western’s intercollegiate athletics program, including pressing needs in the areas of the health and safety of athletes, additional support for women’s sports, and improving the level of competitiveness of all teams. Additionally, an increase of $54 in the athletic debt service fee, from $32 per year to $86, would help finance renovation and construction of facilities that support athletics and recreation.

— A $15 increase in the University Center debt service fee, from $130 per year to $145, to help finance a 6.5 million addition to the A.K. Hinds University Center. The project, the second of a three-phased expansion effort designed to enhance the quality of student life at Western, is now being designed, with a projected bid date of May 2000. The estimated 31,000 square-foot addition is expected to include retail shopping space, a movie theater, increased space for student organizations, a multicultural center and an expanded food court.

— A $14.80 increase in the student activities fee, from $278.20 per year to $293, to support continued expansion of evening and weekend activities for students, including programming offered through Hinds University Center, the campus Fitness Center, intramural athletics, the CyberCafe and the dance club.

— An $8 increase in the health services fee, from $167 per year to $175, to support outreach workshops on student health issues, expand nutrition education and programming, augment services of a women’s clinic, enhance the wellness program and offset increased costs of commonly administered over-the-counter medicines.

— A 5 percent increase in the cost of the declining balance meal plans to offset rising costs of food and supplies, fund salary and fringe benefit increases for food service employees, and support additional improvements in food service operations. The premium declining balance plan would increase from $1,510 per year to $1,590, while the standard declining balance plan would increase from $1,370 to $1,440. All-you-care-to-eat meal plans would be modified to increase debit card amounts, and a new “Plus Plan” option would be added.

— A 10 percent increase in housing fees for standard, double-occupancy rooms (from $1,540 per year to $1,694); a 12 percent increase for standard, triple-occupancy rooms (from $1,092 to $1,228); and a 10 percent increase for standard, single-occupancy rooms (from $3,080 to $3,388). The adjustments will offset inflation in operating expenses, fund salary and fringe benefit increases, and support equipment replacements and upgrades.

— A $7 increase in the cost of parking permits. Cost of a student permit would increase from $23 a year to $30, and a faculty/staff permit would increase from $28 to $35. The revenue will be used to build additional parking spaces on campus and maintain existing parking facilities.

In other action, the trustees authorized $197,400 in self-liquidating capital improvement projects to improve and resurface the parking lot adjacent to Robertson Residence Hall, and $286,436 in self-liquidating capital improvement bonds to replace exterior windows in Harrill Residence Hall. The Robertson project will be funded by $88,200 in state appropriations for campus repairs and renovations, and $109,200 from the public safety trust fund; the Harrill project will be funded by available balances in the dormitory system revenue fund.