‘It’s All Here’ … For an Added Fee

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Published October 4, 2018
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The Montclarion
Jeanne Machado (left) picks up her rental equipment from The Cage staffer Joshua Maxi (right). Olivia Kearns | The Montclarion.

Montclair State University boasts “It’s all here.” What they do not advertise is that there are many non-negotiable fees students have no choice but to pay.

If a student is in journalism, film or other media classes, then they need to rent out equipment, such as cameras and tripods to complete assignments. This leads most students to visit The Cage, the university’s equipment rental space. The facility has all of the equipment required for completing class assignments. Starting this year, The Cage is requiring that every student purchase insurance before they are able to rent anything.

The insurance ranges from $110 – $124, depending on the deductible students choose. Students graduating at the end of the semester, such as myself, are still forced to buy a full year’s worth of coverage, even though they will only be using it for four months. Students cannot complete their assignments until they purchase the insurance. Montclair State students who can not spare over a hundred dollars for a service that was free last year are basically out of luck.

The Cage boasts that their insurance is great for students because it allows for their personal devices like phones and laptops to be covered. According to Frank Martinez, The Cage supervisor, the school’s perspective on the new insurance policy is that it protects students’ interest.

“Ultimately, if a piece of equipment is lost, no matter what, it reflects poorly on the student,” Martinez said. “Students have lost items, had them stolen and in those situations we have to pay for it.”

Martinez elaborated on why the insurance policy is in place.

“Students have lost thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, and we don’t want them to be in a position to pay that,” Martinez said. “With this insurance policy students pay, at most, $100.”

Martinez also spoke about the student reaction to this new cage policy.

“The student response was initially mixed,” Martinez said. “For students that had financial burden issues [and] for this to come at the last minute, it was a bit of a shock. After further discussion, most have realized it’s a positive.”

The new insurance is not the only added fee at Montclair State. With over half of the student body commuting, many have to pay for a parking pass. A commuter parking pass at Montclair State costs $260 for the year. This gives students access to park in any commuter lot, from Car Parc Diem to Lot 60. Parking at Montclair State, as many know, is easier said than done.

With such a high percentage of students commuting, everyone is fighting for the same limited number of parking spots. I can’t say how much time I have spent driving through Car Parc, Lot 22 and Lot 60 looking for a spot. The kicker is that professors all say, “Parking isn’t an excuse for tardiness.” I already leave an hour before my class to make the 20-minute commute to campus, but oftentimes dedicating 40 minutes to finding a spot isn’t enough time — it is just a futile waste of gas.

While purchasing a parking pass for my final semester at Montclair State, the only option I had was to buy the full year pass for $260. Since I would only need it for the fall semester, I called Parking Services and asked if there was any way that I could pay for a semester’s worth of parking. I was told I still had to pay the full $260, but after I graduate I can just go to parking services and request a refund.

I did some digging and found out that Montclair State is charging significantly more than other nearby colleges. William Paterson University’s annual parking pass costs $230 with the option of buying it for a single semester for $115. Ramapo College charges $200 for an annual parking pass. Pace University does not charge for commuters to park on campus; they give parking decals for free with a valid student ID.

Commuters who drive have little choice but to purchase a parking pass. They can either shell out the $260 or test their luck and risk a $50 ticket for every day they park without a pass.

On top of student loans, many Montclair State students’ only option is to apply for a credit card and put these non-negotiable added fees on it. Is it really fair for students to be expected to go further into debt to buy the insurance and parking passes they need to physically go to class and get the equipment they need for assignments?

The Montclarion reported that the university not only approved a 2.7 percent increase in Montclair State’s tuition, but they also approved a 3.4 percent salary increase for President Susan Cole, bringing her annual salary to $455,000. In addition to that, Cole will receive an $88,000 bonus. Is it ethical for her to have her salary increased and receive such a sizable bonus while so many students are struggling to pay the fees so they can attend class? I think not.

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