Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Residential Life fees are unnecessary

Fines imposed on students are arbitrary
Judith Gibson-Okunieff

At the University of Massachusetts’ orientation for new students, each student receives a UCard. That UCard is your ID, your ticket to enter dining halls, your access to your building, your card to store money for printers and laundry machines and more. Without it, you can’t do a lot of things. At one time or another, we have all misplaced these cards and went into a panic. Sometimes, it has been stolen. Other times, it has been misplaced or left in your suite or room as you shut the door behind you (something I have done on many occasions). But, when you do lose your UCard or are even locked out of your room, you must abide by the rules and fines imposed by the University.

Of course, it costs money to create the UCard, but why is it $25 for a new one if you lost it, but only $10 to replace it if yours is in your hand but not functional? My UCard stopped swiping after a month during my freshman year, so I took it to the UCard Office, where I was told that I did something to it and would have to pay $10. I refused to pay the $10 and actually still have a UCard that doesn’t swipe. Why do I have to bear the cost to replace a product, given to me by the University, that no longer works?  Now, I understand that the University has to cover their costs, but do these fines really stop students from losing their UCards? No. To me, it is just another way for the University to make money off of arbitrary fines. I have so many friends who have lost UCards or gotten them stolen.

Now, let’s say you didn’t even lose your UCard. It is locked in your suite because you went to do your laundry, and then you realized it wasn’t in your hand. None of your roommates are home, so you trudge down to the Residential Service Desk to get a temporary “key” (in the Commonwealth Honors College, it is a temporary UCard for suites). As they hand you the temporary key, they tell you that if you do not get the key back to them in two hours, you will owe the University $40. Why? I understand that they do not want students walking off with the key, but the key is only programmed for your room. You can’t use it for other things, and almost every student immediately clings to their UCard once they’ve found it again. On top of the two-hour limit (which can be extended up to 24 hours for keys), you now have checked out a temporary key once for the semester. You only get three free temporary keys a semester.  If you sign one out for a fourth time, they charge you $50. Oh, and if you’re late when returning the key, even by a minute, you will be charged $50.

If you’re locked out when the Residential Service Desk is not open, you can either call them or have your Residential Assistant open your room for you. This incurs a fee of $25. I know of several instances where I have seen fellow students locked out of their room after the RSD has closed, and they don’t want to ask their RA to unlock their door because they don’t want to pay the $25. To me, it is ridiculous that a student who is there to help students as the RA has to charge their residents to open their door for them. Yes, there are students who always get locked out of their room and who constantly need assistance, but that is only a small fraction of students. It happens to everyone; we’ve all been there, and it is terrible to spend a few hours sitting outside your door or in your lobby, waiting for a roommate to come back because you can’t afford to incur another fee.

Now, in terms of physical keys, it is really expensive if you lose your key. After a quick Google search, it seems that the $50 is pretty standard, if not cheap, to recore a door. If you lose your key, they have to not only replace it, but they also have to switch the locks and give your roommate a new key.

Another fine that is imposed on students is the $50 late fee that the University imposes for having a move-out bin for more than 20 minutes. I understand that this is done to make students move out quickly and ensure that all students get a chance to use the bin to move out, but 20 minutes is not enough time. It takes me at least five minutes to even get the bin back to my room, then another five to 10 minutes to fill it with items, leaving me with only a few minutes to sprint to my car, dump it all out and hurry back to the RSD so that I don’t get fined $50. It’s absurd. Give students a few minutes of leeway, and stop setting these deadlines that are difficult to meet.

Not all students can drop everything, go check out a key, run to their room, get their own key and run back to the RSD. We are students on busy schedules, so some students may be running to make it to class or lab on time. Yes, we do sign a key agreement that makes us solely responsible for our keys and the bins, but Residential Life and the UCard Office should be more understanding of the fact that we are all human and need help sometimes. RAs and the RSD are there to help us and shouldn’t be imposing unnecessary fines on us.

We are college students, and we should be learning responsibility, but charging students $25 or $50 because they get locked out of their room after hours or “too many times” during a semester is ridiculous. I don’t think this is how Residential Life should be conducting its business. It should rethink its procedures to be more understanding, taking into account mitigating circumstances for students who will need it at some point in their time at UMass.

Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    Ed Cutting, Ed.D.Apr 12, 2018 at 11:27 am

    It all makes sense when you realize that UMass simply doesn’t care about students.

    Students are viewed as nothing more than a fungible resource to fund the institution….