Senate forum gives students chance to seek answers about transcript fee increase

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Photo Credit: Alissa Jae Lazo-Kim | Daily Texan Staff

University Registrar Shelby Stanfield faced students for the first time since fees for transcripts doubled Sept. 12 as the Senate of College Councils hosted its Campus Conversation about registration yesterday.

Stanfield answered a variety of questions from students voicing frustration over the fee doubling from $10 to $20 and was presented with a petition holding 6,000 signatures from students and parents concerned over the fee increase.

“We don’t take it lightly, increasing fees,” Stanfield said. “When we increased the transcript fee from $10 to $20, we received a lot of student feedback, and I want to be able to answer everybody’s questions and concerns to the best of my abilities.”

Senate President Sergio Cavazos said the event was first scheduled a month ago to provide students with an opportunity to get questions answered about registration, but the transcript fee doubling was made the focus following the recent outcry by students against the increase.

“It just happened to work out timing-wise where this transcript issue came up last Monday, and we decided to shift gears,” Cavazos said. “I’ve been hearing a lot from students and getting a lot of feedback about these issues, so we wanted to facilitate this conversation and shift focus because we already had the registrar in the room.”

Since the fee was announced to the University by email Oct. 3, 6,000 students signed a petition created by biology senior Rahil Gour calling for a repeal of the fee. 

Gour presented the petition to Shelby during the town hall-style event which included 60 pages worth of signatures and comments from signees against the fee increasing for the first time since 2001.

“Physically giving him the paper with how many signatures there are is much more impactful,” Gour said. “I included the comments as well from students to give him an insight for why students are so frustrated.”

Government junior Antonio Hernandez asked Shelby multiple questions during the event about the rationale behind the fee increase.

“They did not give us a heads up, they just did it without asking us,” Hernandez said after the conversation. “It’s so frustrating for me because they say they have our interests, but they do not really acknowledge our hardships or what we’re struggling with financially.”

Hernandez said in the future he wants the University to be more transparent before making these changes.

“In the future, for once ask the students before doing these kinds of things,” Hernandez said. “We’re paying for this.”

Stanfield said the conversation provided valuable insight, but said he couldn’t guarantee any changes would be made to the fee despite the strong reaction against it.

“Well, I never say never, but I wouldn’t want to encourage anyone that we’re going back to $10,” Stanfield said. “The costs have increased over the last 15 years, but we’ve tried to keep costs for students to a minimal. After a point in time, we wait as long as we can possibly, but once we’re on a steady decline in our ability to provide students the services, there comes a point in time when we just have to do a fee adjustment.”

This story has been updated since its initial publication. Transcript fees doubled Sept. 12, not Oct. 2.