Life as a college student is many things: exciting, stressful and really expensive. But it seems like no matter where we turn, our university is constantly adding more fees onto our school expenses. Just look at the recent change to make flex dollars mandatory for all students at EKU. Or other expenses, such as gym usage over the summer.

For most of us, when our bill comes in from the university we have to immediately start thinking about where we can cut expenses
and how much we’ll have to borrow in loans. Many students pay for all of their school on their own, including someone very close to 
me.

On a daily basis, I watch him calculate his expenses for the coming months, trying to find anywhere to save money, even going as far as to write down “coins from around the house” on his list of possible places to find more money.

This is a reality for many college students who struggle to maintain their grades and work one or more minimum wage jobs. The reality is this person in my life is going to owe thousands in student debt by the time he graduates, and he is not alone. So why do schools like EKU continue to try to add on more fees for their students?

During the school year, many students find an outlet in the gym, including myself. It’s a place to clear my head and maintain a healthy lifestyle while living off 25 cent noodles. At EKU, in the fall, spring, and winter, gym usage is included as part of student tuition. However, when the summer time rolls around the gym is no longer open to students unless they are taking summer courses.

This past summer I was excited to get in shape after classes ended and I was no longer stressing about finals. However, when I walked in and slid my student ID card, I was shocked when the person at the counter stopped me and told me I could not use the gym because
I was not enrolled in summer credit hours.

Greatly disappointed, I took my gym bag back to my car and drove home. But all the way I could not help but feel slightly betrayed by
the university. As a student taking 15+ credit hours in the semesters before, and would be taking again in the fall, and paying thousands of dollars, I felt like I should have open use to the gym for the summer. The idea that as a student, struggling to keep school cost as low as possible, would have to pay for a summer gym membership was ludicrous in my mind.

For EKU students a gym membership purchased at the beginning of the summer break is $50, which could increase now with the new rec center. At the beginning of the summer, I searched for weeks for a job with no luck. It wasn’t until July that I was able to start working, so I didn’t have any money to spend for a gym membership. Even after I started working, I had to immediately start saving

for the fall semester, so I still couldn’t justify the money to get a membership. I was deeply disappointed that I wouldn’t get to fulfill my summer goals of getting into shape and getting healthier in preparation for my senior year.

The majority of EKU students go home on summer break to places other than Richmond, so is EKU really making that much money on this? Or another way of asking the question,

are they really losing that much to allow their students access to the gym over the summer? In my mind, no. The day that I went to the gym in the summer there were maybe ten people there. Not to mention, the gym is open to students in the winter with no added fee. Why should the summer break be any different?

EKU students pay for tuition, housing, flex dollars, parking passes, course fees, online programs and textbooks; those are just the needs for school, not to mention the cost of living in general. But if we’re solely focusing on costs paid to the university, college is far from affordable for most students. There is no room for extra costs; and students shouldn’t be expected to pay for any more fees.

When students are in college, it often becomes like a second home for us. We care about our school, and we will make some of our greatest memories here. We want to look back on our time at EKU and remember it fondly, remembering how much our school truly seemed to have our best interests in mind. If we as students care so much about our university, then we deserve to be taken care of and respected by our school. An elimination of a mandatory usage fee for the rec center over the summer is one step in the right direction.

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