Letter to the editor: vote ‘yes’ on innovation fee

Letter to the editor: vote ‘yes’ on innovation fee

September 17
23:44 2014

have been at UNT for four years now, and every year I’m charged more money than the year before. The student service fee has increased. Tuition has increased. Fees to fund new construction projects have been added. I have always grumbled about these, but realized that they were necessary to keep advancing our university, so I accepted them. Occasionally I’ll see a fee increase go to a student vote, and I’ll get excited because I finally get to have some direct input into how my money is spent.

Now, there is yet another proposed fee going to a student vote: a $5 per student, per semester classroom innovation fee that will go towards sponsoring instructors who want to improve what we are currently doing in the classroom. I’m here today to tell you why it is so crucial that you vote yes.

This fee is designed to encourage our faculty to try new teaching methods, to use new technologies, to flip their classrooms; in short, it’s about encouraging faculty to be creative and experimental in their roles as educators. More importantly, it is a completely student-driven initiative. It is a statement from the student body that we support our faculty in their efforts to give us the best education possible.

In my four years here, I have met some professors who had incredible ideas on how to engage their students, but simply couldn’t find the funding for it. Our faculty and administrators truly care about us and want what’s best for us. However, the university administration can’t justify spending money on new methods that don’t fit into the mold of how things currently are. They can’t, but we can.

Classrooms have changed considerably in the past few decades. The spread of technology has greatly increased the kinds and number of teaching tools available to educators, but not all teachers are able to take advantage of improvements in instruction. In the age of Google, the role of education has changed. We have broad, nearly unlimited access to the world’s information and can no longer justify a model based solely on fact retention. We need an education that can keep up with a fast-paced, changing world. That’s where this fee comes in.

How is this different than the other fees/programs we have on campus?

It is student-driven. Students don’t have a say in any tuition increases that occur. This provides them an opportunity to have some direct input in their education costs.

A diverse committee runs it. This is what will make the fee successful. Combining undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff on one committee that oversees how every dollar is spent helps ensure that it will be spent responsibly.

There’s no red tape. Because this fee is coming directly from a student-proposed fee, it won’t have the red tape that typically comes with tuition dollars. This will allow us to try things that have never been done before and to experiment with potentially transformative ideas.

It’s about quality. This fee would substantially add to the amount of money dedicated to research on how to engage and prepare students, but provides a qualitatively different approach to funding new ideas. Unlike current programs, this fee places student input at the forefront and does not limit the kinds of proposals that can be submitted.

Isn’t it time you took control of your education? For the value of a cup of coffee each semester, you could directly influence your education at UNT. Vote yes.

Voting on this fee will be open online at the SGA OrgSync page from Sept. 22-24.

Adam Hasley is the advocate general for the Student Government Association. He can be reached at hasleyadam@gmail.com.

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