April 27, 2005

Cornell Drops Student ID Fee Policy

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Many students have had the unfortunate experience of losing or breaking their student identification card. Consequently, many students have felt the frustration of paying a $25 fee in order to replace it. In response to a campus of distressed students, the Student Fees Review Committee (SFRC) has taken action to eradicate this problem by instituting a policy that will allow every student one free ID replacement.

The policy, which will go into effect beginning Fall, 2005, was encouraged by students through paticipation in a survey done by the Student Fee Review Committee on non-mandatory student fees. In the survey, one of the areas asked students to identify some of the top fees that they felt were egregious or unnecessary. The $25 ID replacement charge was among the top items on the majority of responses.

“We looked at fees that seemed to be high concerns of the students,” said Paul Streeter, co-chair of the SFRC and senior project director in the Office of Planning and Budget. “The lost ID fee was near the top of the student concerns.”

The fee, which charges a much higher price than the actual amount it takes to replace an ID card, mainly acts as a deterrent. “The fee was there to curb the recurring behavior of loosing the ID card,” Streeter said.

However, after analyzing studies and surveys, the SFRC discerned that the vast majority of students who need a replacement only ever replace their ID card once. Furthermore, 58 percent of all undergraduates listed the ID fee as a “moderate” or “high” concern in their surveys. This overwhelming response prompted the SFRC to take action.

“When we received the results of the survey we decided that the ID fee was an issue that we could tackle,” said Josh Katcher ’06, co-chair of the SFRC. “Paul Streeter and I then took the issue to University Registrar David Yeh and asked, ‘Does it really cost $25 to replace an ID?’ He said ‘no,’ and we asked if it was possible to lower the cost.”

Through meetings and teamwork the SFRC was able to work with administration to approve the new policy of allowing students one free ID.

“Cornell’s decision to change its ID replacement policy is a great example of how students, faculty and administrators can work together in a positive way for positive change,” Katcher said.

The dispelling of the ID charge is just one of the many items on the SFRC’s future agenda. Since receiving an overwhelming response from almost half of the undergraduate student body, the SFRC hopes to challenge many more fees that have students complaining. “Last year I campaigned against nickel and dime-ing at Cornell,” Katcher said. “Hopefully, this is the first step of many to make good on that promise.”

Many students are grateful that these “nickel and dime-ing” fee issues are being addressed. “It’s about time that they eliminated extraneous fees,” said Erwin Wang ’07. “This kind of maneuver may revamp students’ opinions regarding administrative policies.”

Streeter agrees that eliminating egregious fees could generate a more positive and confident view of the administration, fees and their efforts.

“I hope that it leaves the students with the impression that the university is not trying to nickel and dime them,” Streeter said. “[The elimination of small fees] will signal a commitment from the university to be tolerant of student behaviors.”

With the elimination of fees students can hope for a more tolerant and student-friendly atmosphere. In addition, over the next couple years the SFRC hopes to work successfully with administration to take action with students’ concerns on other issues.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Katcher said. “Next week we will release the full report and I have every reason to believe that many of our recommendations will be favorably received by the administration.”

Archived article by Carl Menzel
Sun Staff Writer