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Saturday, December 27, 2008

UDC Law students investigate fees


Most students know that the cost of enrollment at college involves more than just tuition. Every year, the University of the District of Columbia charges a variety of additional fees, including the student activity fee. The purpose of the fee is to fund student activities and fund student support budgets.

Some UDC students are concerned the math doesn't add up and that there is money missing from the budgets funded by student fees.

The problem started in 2006, when the UDC Board of Trustees voted to increase student activity fees from $25 to $35 for undergraduates, and from $110 to $210 for law students. Although the fee went up, the amount accounted for by the University's annual budget did not. Over the last two years the fund imbalance has grown to an estimated $2.2 million for the undergraduates, and $60,000 for the law school.

Students have been told by law school administrators that the unaccounted funds are not available to fund the activities of student organizations, because it has been "absorbed" into the university's budget.

Robert Maxwell, UDC Law student, has requested six years of budget history on the student activity fees. These requests, however legitimate, has not been honored. Maxwell has been asked by the law school's Student Bar Association to form a task force of students to pursue this investigation and solve the unexplained budget problems. To accomplish this, he may have to look for answers beyond the UDC administration, since the university's budget is actually approved by the D.C. City Council.

Nevertheless, holding the university accountable for the money is a priority for students. Alexander Beraud, a second-year law student and senator in the Student Bar Association, sees this as a matter of deep concern. "We need to quell the vast outcry among the student body," says Beraud, "and ensure that the student organizations, which represent the interests of students, are properly funded."

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