SA nudges College to act on fines

by Rachel Osterman | 10/12/00 5:00am

The Student Assembly's two-year campaign to reform the College's fees and fine system inched forward this week, with members unanimously endorsing a resolution that calls for the administration to make good on its pledge to revamp how financial penalties are levied.

While the Physical Education department has recently eliminated its fine for noncompletion of the three term PE requirement by sophomore summer, that is only the last in a list of recommendations made by a completed student work group that are yet to be implemented.

Last fall, Dean of the College James Larimore told The Dartmouth that the release of a new policy was imminent. Since then, however, no major changes have been announced.

The pace of reform was significantly slowed last year by the Student Life Initiative, which demanded the time and energy of key administrators.

Now, explained Larimore, the College is operating under the principle that no new fines be created without undergoing what he described as an "extensive review process."

Currently, two committees are studying different aspects of the fees and fine system. One is examining parking, and one the structure under which fines themselves are administered.

"The [Assembly's] resolution itself won't accelerate the pace of those groups," Larimore said last night. "But it helps them know about concerns students have."

The impetus for reforming the fees and fine system came two years ago, when the Assembly collected and documented complaints from students. Tens of thousands of dollars are collected every year in student fines, and student parking tickets are significantly higher than those paid by faculty and staff.

"Fines should be used as a deterrent, not as a source of revenue," Chair of Student Life Committee Molly Stutzman '02 said at Tuesday's Assembly meeting.

Nonetheless, agreement on the resolution wasn't unanimous. Though no Assembly members voted against it, one student raised the question of how departments would support themselves in the absence of revenue from fees and fines. He worried that the money would come from student tuition and that it would be financed by all students instead of just those responsible for violations.

The Assembly's resolution called for several key changes, including the distribution of a list of all finable infractions; a requirement that departments directly blitz students each time a fine is levied; a change in parking policy such that first-time offenders pay only a small fine; a reduction in the disparity between parking fines for students and those for faculty and staff and the elimination or justification for fining for failed PE classes.

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