New $95 fee to be imposed on students taking science laboratory classes

By Stefan Geller

Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian
(Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian)

Students will be charged a $95 fee for taking science laboratory courses going forward from next semester, announced the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts.

According to Steve Goodwin, dean of CNS, the new fee is being put in place to fund new research equipment, renovations and improvements to the laboratories and specialty supplies to go along with the new equipment, Goodwin said.

The new fee will affect courses in the College of Natural Sciences, as well as the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

“The goal is to get a better connection between the kind of things the students are learning in the lab, the kind of experiments they’re doing, the kind of equipment they’re using, and the kind of things they’re going to be doing after they graduate,” said Goodwin.

New equipment will include centrifuges, thermal cyclers, microscopes and any upgrades to outdated machinery.

“The technology changes,” said Goodwin. “So you can’t have a situation where students are using 20 or 30 year old technology and then not doing the things they’re going to be exposed to once they graduate.”

While Goodwin could not specify the exact details, he could confirm that the fee will be applicable for financial aid, saying that nobody at CNS wanted to create unnecessary burdens on students.

So far, the UMass student body has responded with mixed feelings. Some students have said that they understand the necessity of these costs.

“I think the fee is a fine thing because science education is very expensive,” said Ali Jamali, a junior who is majoring in Biology. “I assume my administration is not lying to me about the necessity of this fee or the direction with which these funds are going to be allocated.”

Other students, however, view this fee as an unnecessary addition to University costs that will create additional burdens on students.

“I was a little bit disappointed, because while I do understand the labs do cost a lot of money to run, I feel like the CNS already receives enough funding that the $95 shouldn’t be necessary,” said Jennie Paik, a sophomore Chemistry major. “I’m one of those students who has trouble paying their tuition and thus I’m really annoyed by that.”

Because the purpose of the fee is aimed at continuous improvement, it will be extended for future semesters beyond the spring of 2016.

The decision to incorporate the new expense was discussed by several sections of the University’s administration, including the Board of Trustees and central administrators of CNS, along with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Concrete discussions to impose the fee have been occurring for about six months.

Stefan Geller can be reached at [email protected]