OPINION: WSU is overcharging us

Chinook, gym fees are ridiculous for this socially-distanced semester



Charging fees for services when students aren’t even on campus is unfair to Cougs.


Earlier this semester, WSU sent students several emails regarding their decisions on keeping, reducing, or getting rid of various school fees this semester. From what I can tell, they kept them all, without reducing many (or any).

I find that pretty gross especially in conjunction with a tuition increase for a semester with a diminished educational experience.

Take the Chinook Student Center, for example. All undergrads were charged $98 this semester for the Chinook, the same price as previous semesters.

Jeff Elbracht, director of UREC and Chinook Facilities, said the university wanted students involved in this decision. Elbracht said the fee includes paying employees, utilities and paying off building debt.

“[President Schulz] wanted to look at student fees and make sure that they were involved in the fees,” Elbracht said. “We have a Chinook board that’s made up of seven members. They’re all composed of the University Recreation or CUB Advisory Boards, and those are primarily students.”

Joanne Greene, programming director of University Recreation, said there is a maximum capacity allowed in the Chinook.

“Our capacity limits, based on square footage … [is] at 25 percent,” Greene said. “There are also distancing requirements between participants when they are in the facility.”

Study rooms are limited to one student in each, fitness lockers are closed, esports and billiards areas are closed, and the weight room areas are limited to 30 in the bottom floor room and 25 in the top floor room. This is all to comply with social distancing standards outlined by the state.

Let’s reel it back for a second: that is 55 people who can use the weight rooms at a time.

Based on social distancing standards and the number of students currently at WSU, it’s going to be very hard for people to find a time slot to work out, especially at peak hours.

Okay, okay, but the Chinook has other things like study rooms! Even then, there are too few study rooms with social distancing policies for enough students to actually use them with any regularity.

These numbers seem way too low for me to feel like paying my $98 fee is fair to me — actually, it feels a little like theft.

WSU actually encouraged students to stay home and not return to Pullman at all – so why are they still charging me for these things? Why are they not at least reducing what they’re charging?

Don’t get me wrong, I completely comprehend the business aspect of this recreation center and that there are still bills to pay. I’m thrilled they’re able to employ students this semester and keep some of their employees because people need jobs.

But not reducing this fee, even a little bit, is pretty egregiously incongruent with their claim that they care about students and understand the financial hardship that accompanied this semester.