Prefer studying to movies? Stay away from Hampton University!
How would you feel about being charged a fee so you have the option of legally doing something you have no interest in doing in the first place? It would be enough to keep me away from Hampton University, just on principle. According to the article Campuses blocking illegal downloads: "The school signed a contract with Ruckus, a company that will provide students with unlimited music and movie downloads. HU will charge every student who lives on campus a fee of $80 for the service, whether they use it or not."
For instance, the university you work for has a Technology Fee for students of $ 126.00 per term (full-time student) and a student activity fee for $ 81 (full time student). I still cannot figure out what the Off-campus Study fee is, but at $400 I don't want that one either (http://www.stthomas.edu/businessoffice/fees/tuit_room_board.htm)
This might be the first one that actually has true value. Of course, the next logical step will be to have a alcohol fee to get a tap in your dorm room.
Conversely, if I want to buy my music through iTunes or MSN or Walmart online, or if I don't want to waste time rotting my brain with music and movies, I'm still going to blow $80 on what amounts to a tax for something that, I'd argue, is not a "social good". (If your kids attend private school you still pay taxes for the public school, but that's because the availability of a public education has strong benefits to society. What good are music and movies doing for college students, to the extent that every student should subsidize their provision?)
Your parallel to Student Activity fees is a better one, but once again I'd argue that student activities (our Lecture Committee was a substantial cost back in my day) are a benefit to the entire community and all students should subsidize them.
(Off-Campus Study is what we used to call Study Abroad, so the $400 is just a paperwork/processing fee for that program and only applies to those who are in a "study abroad".)
Campuses can block illegal downloads. Campuses can provide download services to their students if they want to. But to charge every single student for something with no academic value sounds stupid to me.
They should download a podcast or two instead. :)
It occurs to me that if Hampton made this an opt-in service, it would probably have to cost $250 a year, to make up for having fewer "subscribers". Of course, that's no reason to ram it down the students' throats.
Rob, as for having a tap in your dorm room, I'm just glad we're finally talking about bona fide public goods now. Hehe.