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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Senate tackles online classes and amnesty

Senators hear from Provost Olson and Dean of University Extended Education

by Dannie Higginbotham

Issue date: 03/19/09 Section: Senate News and Notes
The Minnesota State Student Association discussed the idea of differential tuition for online classes in its meeting Wednesday.

The senate heard a presentation from Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs Scott Olson and Dean of University Extended Education Pat Lipetzky. The discussion was provoked by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's recent proposal that 25 percent of college learning be done online by the near future.

"We're not a big online campus, we're more of a traditional one," Olson said. "We're also not sure if this is a goal for the [Minnesota State Colleges and Universities] system overall or for each individual campus."

Because the start-up cost of online courses is more expensive than that of traditional, on-campus classes, the university is considering adding $30 per credit hour for classes taught online.

"This money would be channeled back into the development of more online programs," Olson said.

Olson noted most Minnesota State schools charge a different tuition rate for online classes and called the increase a "convenience fee."

"You don't have to worry about buying a parking pass or paying for gas," he said. "It's more convenient [to take a class] sitting in your basement in your pajamas and slippers."

About 25 percent of online credit hours are taken by people who never step foot on the MSU campus, including students who live in places such as California and Hawaii.

"If we implement this idea of differential tuition, can we excuse online-only students from health services and tech fees they'll never use?" asked MSSA President Ryan Anderson.

"It's true that some fees go to things these students will never use," Olson said. "It's unlikely someone will drive from Hawaii, even as good as Sodexho is."

Olson said the university has to pay extra money to put library sources online for the online-only students.

Lipetzky said the fees for services they may not use go toward things that help the standing of the university.

"When people are going back to school, the No. 1 criteria is often the reputation of the university," Lipetzky said.

The senate also passed a motion calling for amnesty for "good Samaritans," asking that students who require medical attention for drug and alcohol related cases and those who call for medical attention are not punished for asking for help.

"Students shouldn't have in their mind, 'am I going to get punished for trying to save someone's life?'" said College of Business Senator Jayme Pretzloff.

College of Allied Health and Nursing Senator Bob Dooley said people shouldn't wait for another tragedy to happen before taking a step such as this, and that a citation would be unnecessary for students who need medical attention.

"I think waking up in a hospital and looking at IVs pumping into you would be more of a wake-up call than a headache and ticket," Dooley said.

The motion reaffirms MSSA's stance in support of a good Samaritan policy.

Dannie Higginbotham is the Reporter assistant news editor