Sarah Bluher 0

Revoke the $50/member/semester fee for Princeton cooperatives

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Dear Dean Deignan and President Tilghman,

We represent the cooperatives on Princeton campus, and those students, faculty and staff who are concerned on their behalf. Cooperatives bring a unique set of attributes to this campus, and we believe that they should be supported.  The co-ops build positive spaces for community, encourage healthy lifestyles, and facilitate dialogues between undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff who are part of the co-op community and attend as guests.  

Beginning this semester, the three cooperatives on Princeton University campus will be charged a $50/member/semester charge, paid to University Services. We find this fee to be unjust and arbitrary. We write to you to request that the fee be revoked. 

The fee was proposed by Vice President of University Services and passed through the Priorities Committee last spring, and is just now being enforced. The justification for the fee is that members of co-ops enjoy privileges which distinguish us from other students: exclusive access to the kitchens, higher use of utilities, and in the case of 2D, the ability to occupy an exclusively vegetarian space. We have been informed that the fee will contribute to the furthering of the “Co-op Program."  We have not been guaranteed transparency in the long term for how our money will be used in this new program. 

We find this fee to be strongly objectionable. To count our access to the kitchen as a distinct privilege, separate from all other services students benefit from, is arbitrary and unjust. The University endowment (and our paid tuition) provide for all kinds of privileges which are enjoyed without being tabulated and charged: access to laboratory equipment, ceramic studios, a cappella practice rooms, etc. What’s more, Princeton’s housing bill covers a flat rate room and board which is not adjusted on the basis of quality of dormitories or access to kitchens; many other dormitories on campus apart from 2D have kitchens. 

This is for us a matter of principle: we are not being treated equally when compared to all other students on campus.  In no other area of Princeton life are students' activities tabulated to come up with additional cost incurred by the University.  This is because none of us is paying the "true cost" of all that we receive here. If Princeton is suddenly going to ask us to justify all of our expenses, then they are effectively doing away with the flat rate tuition, and that concerns all students.

This seems more like a message than a fee to us. We operate on a small budget and try to cut costs as much as we can, so $50 is really a significant number for us (10% of our current dues). We represent a subset of the student body with on average tighter finances, so to impose a fee specifically targeted towards co-ops strikes us as particularly unfair. This issue demands attention. We see ourselves as a set of students who are proud to stand on principle and seek justice. 

We ask you now to support the cooperative communities on campus, an enduring Princeton tradition that has been sustained for 36 years. Please join us in ensuring that diverse spaces on campus are thriving and encouraged.  

We ask that you join us in this effort and do all that is in your power to revoke the $50 fee.


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