Department of Media Studies puts class cap on lab fee charges for semester, looks into changing fee

Students now only have to pay for a maximum of two class lab fees, $125 flat rate may change depending on class

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Students who have taken a media study production class know the department requires an extra $125 lab fee. 

Students have had to pay this fee for each production class they take –– regardless of how often the course uses the resources. 

But this semester, students who took more than two classes were only charged for a maximum of two lab fees. And now the department is looking into revising the $125 flat rate fee to be more reflective of the course type, according to Carl Lee, the director of equipment and facilities for the Department of Media Studies.

If a student enrolls in a media study production class, they gain access to the equipment room and labs provided by the Department of Media Studies. Students can borrow video cameras, audio gear, lighting gear and other items needed for their classes from the equipment room. They can use the gear for 48-hour periods, after which they can return or extend their checkout time. Students can also borrow keys to computer lab rooms for projects. 

In exchange, students pay the mandatory lab fee per production class each semester to cover the cost of these resources, now with a cap of two. The department has worked to make the lab easy to access –– with a new online reservation system –– but some students still have concerns about fees, which the department is hoping to revise. 

Some students, like senior media studies major Catherine Campbell, say these fees are fair as they stand.

“I think the media studies lab fees are fair if you are taking a lab class like Basic Doc, Basic Video, and Intermediate Video,” Campbell said.

But other students say the fees are unfair and too expensive. Jennifer Dudzinski, a senior media studies major with a concentration in production, disagrees with the current system.

“I took classes where the fee was required, but I didn’t need to use anything for the equipment room,” Dudzinski said. “I had a friend who had to pay twice that because she was taking two classes.”

Alyssa Mariani, an ’18 UB media studies alum, said she felt the fees were a financial burden when she was at UB.

“If you’re in multiple [production classes], that’s a huge hit financially. It wasn’t fair when the class instructor would have you use equipment once or twice and money was wasted,” Mariani said. “I believe professors should still be able to charge the fee if they promise to allow access and utilize resources for the students.”

Lee said the fee helps cover the cost of the equipment students can borrow from the department.

“We get new equipment every year,” Lee said. “We definitely go through the budget every year.” 

Last spring semester, the department added a new online system called “connect2” where students could reserve equipment online instead of having to reserve at the equipment room itself. 

Lee also explained that the department is assessing the new fee cap and also looking at the $125 flat rate, and that the two-course fee cap may be temporary until the department decides on the new rates.

“Currently, they’re revising how lab fees are assessed and calculated. [The lab fee] will no longer be a flat $125 lab fee,” Lee said. “It will depend on the type of course you’re taking. However, they are going to calculate the new lab fees coming from above.”

Lee said students in programming production courses are likely to use the computer labs but not the equipment room. Because of this, that programming student should not have to pay a fee that covers both the computer labs and the equipment room. 

“I think [the new lab fees] would make a huge difference,” Dudzinski said.

Other members of the media studies department did not comment in time for publication.

Anastasia Wilds is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at anastasia.wilds@ubspectrum.com and on twitter @AnastasiaWilds