By Nicole Kobie
Tuition may go up, but next year’s batch of frosh students will not pay extra to wander around campus with bright, yellow binders. Resulting from this year’s tuition consultation, first-year students won’t be billed to attend U of C 101, the frosh orientation program.
"The [Students’ Union] received a guarantee of no fees," said University of Calgary Associate Vice-president Student Affairs Dr. Peggy Patterson. "The funding prior to this and including this year were paid for by administration."
That’s no small bill for administration to foot, either. Since planning the program in 1995, and implementing it in 1997, it has cost over $930,000.
The orientation will continue to be three days, but outside sources of funding are being sought.
"In terms of funding, what we’re looking for is sponsors," explained Patterson. "Sponsors could potentially put ads in things like the little handbook the students get and so on."
With a yearly cost of $180,000, the value of the program has come into question.
"Essentially, we admit upwards of 5,000 students every fall," Patterson said. "It gives first-year students a head start to connections with faculty, staff and other students on campus, and it gives them a chance to get all their tasks done like all of their books bought… and student loan forms signed before everybody else starts back. So, when they start their classes with all the other students, they don’t feel like they’re behind the eight ball."
Patterson says this helps students become more involved around campus, through clubs and other activities, and feedback apparently backs her up.
"Our feedback regarding the program–and it’s been evaluated each year–certainly indicates that U of C 101 does, in fact, provide students with those benefits," said Patterson.
Patterson is confident the necessary funding will be found, as it is a good opportunity for business to do something good for the campus community. As well, the program costs less each year.
"We’ve reduced the price of offering the program through re-con-figuring things and because we don’t have to develop it anymore," said Patterson. "So, frankly, it’s not costing more than $30 a student."
Either way, students will not be directly charged for the program.
"It’s not an option to bill students," stressed Patterson.
Many students would not willingly shell out any extra dollars.
"[The program] didn’t really help me," said third-year management student Sylvia Chok. "I’d rather not pay… it was mandatory and I didn’t want to go. I could have found out that information by myself, too, I think."
Other students found the orientation beneficial, but were still unwilling to cover the costs.
"I thought it was good because you got to know a lot of people in your faculty," said first-year Kineseolgy student Amy Barnett. "I wouldn’t have paid for it… it’s not worth that."
Some students believe they should be given a choice as to whether or not they attend, especially if it costs them extra.
"[If we had to pay] we should have an option," said first-year Kineseolgy student Melanie Naylor. "We pay enough already."