Question: Where Is The Place Of Anger In The University?
During a particularly chaotic episode at the above-mentioned bus stop, in the shadow of the above-mentioned stadium, I managed – while wrangling my 18-month old, two book bags (hers and mine), a tote bag, and an umbrella stroller – squeezed as we were between the foot traffic of students and joggers and the actual rush hour traffic of the three-way stop at Bancroft and Piedmont, to lose my student ID card. I had thought ahead to take it out of my wallet and place it securely in the left breast pocket of my shirt, for easy access when the bus arrived. Somewhere in there, however, it decided to disappear into the ether.
Two days later, I found myself at the Cal1/ Student ID card center on Lower Sproul Plaza. There I discovered that it would only cost me 25 dollars to replace the actual card – but that in order to get a new bus pass sticker it would cost me 65 more dollars. Oh and I’d have to go to a different facility to get it. When I asked, incredulously – and with a number of swear words strategically injected into the question – why, the young undergraduate student who was working the front desk “reminded” me that this information had been on the back of my lost card, and that in accepting it I had “agreed” to paying the fee in the case that the card became lost. She sounded as though she was responding with an official response provided to her by her superiors, which made sense considering its patronizing tone, and it translated into something like “By accepting your student ID card, you agreed” (a tricksy rhetorical sleight-of-tongue) “to paying an exorbitant fee should you decide, at some moment in the future, to misplace your ID card.” In other words: I should’ve thought about this before I decided to lose it.
Besides the fact that I’m not the type of student that has 65 dollars earmarked for those moments when I spontaneously decide to engage in minor transgressions against the university, I am already paying it.
Toward the end of the summer of 2013, as the majority of my cohort and I prepared ourselves emotionally and mentally for our impending TAships, we were surprised to find that on our August bill a “Campus and Transit Fee” had appeared. Being fellowship students, we’d spent our first two years primarily engaged in class work while we lived off of our modest stipend. This semester, however, we were making the transition into the curious world of student-employeeship, wherein we were to begin our new jobs as discussion section leaders. We were not informed that we would be required to pay over 300 dollars of our pay back into the university until we were given 15 days in which to do so. And this out of a monthly pay rate that is over 6,000 dollars below the living wage for Alameda county – before taxes. Seventy of these dollars are specifically earmarked to go to AC Transit, meaning that after I’d decided to lose my original card, I’d be paying more than double that in order to be able to ride the bus to class in the morning, and home at night. This sort of thing is apparently known as a “Partial Fee Remission,” which – as far as I can tell – basically means that the University reserves to right to change them at any time, and your department can choose whether or not they will inform you about them in the first place. After calculating how much money I would spend were I to continue using the bus as much as I do now – and even allowing for a slight rise in ridership – it has become clear that it would be cheaper for me to simply pay my bus fees out of pocket. But then, for half of that, I don’t have a choice, do I? And even when I take care of that, I still won’t be able to ride.