MSU-Mankato fee vote saves four sports from elimination

Students at another Minnesota state university have approved a referendum that would raise their fees to save some sports programs.

Last week, 55 percent of voting Minnesota State University - Mankato students chose to raise their student fees by up to $11.25 a semester to save men's swimming, women's bowling and men's and women's tennis, according to a Mankato Free Press report and statements by MSU-Mankato spokesman Michael Cooper.

About one in five students showed up to vote, according to information supplied by Cooper. (The newspaper pegged it at 23 percent.)

The university's sports were up for elimination due to budget cuts.

Cooper said MSU President Richard Davenport has to approve the referendum, but did not know when that would happen.

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(The fee increase listed above is an estimate. Cooper, along with voting documentation, put it at 75 cents per credit. The full-time load is 15 credits, Cooper said, so that makes it $11.25 for a 15-hour load. The amount might vary according to course load, so I'm trying to nail that down.)

Students approved the referendum apparently against the advice of student leaders. I've got calls out to student leader Tom Williams, who wrote this editorial in the Reporter student paper.

And below is a piece by another student leader, Brett Anderson. From the way he put it, students made a big mistake by approving that in the face of legislative cuts to higher education.

(He also listed the fee increase at $18 a year, and Cooper said he's not sure where Anderson  got those numbers. I think he's calculating that based on a 12-hour, two-semester year.)

He references the $1.74-per-credit fee-increase referendum passed by St. Cloud State students to save sports programs there (a cost that he calculates out to a yearly $42).

Seeing it from the eyes of a legislator, he wrote:

Costs too high? Apparently not.

Why are they complaining about academic cuts and high tuition if students can afford $18 a year (and $42 a year at St. Cloud) for sports?

Lawmakers have seen what we have done and it has consequences. How do we expect to maintain credibility in our fight for lower costs when we willingly raise them on ourselves? Are we now just a bunch of hypocrites? Is $18 per year for athletics really how we wanted to spend $18 per year? Was it worth losing credibility at the Capitol?

Unfortunately credibility is something we can't quantify. So the sports teams saw it as a non issue. But, of course, they didn't have to pick up the phone from a Senator on the Higher Education Committee on Wednesday morning either.