Friday, October 15, 2010

U.C. Regents to Add Air Consumption Fee

Earlier today, the University of California regents unanimously voted to impose a new Air Consumption Fee on students, faculty, and staff. The new fee will go into effect on January 1.

University of California President Mark G. Yudof said, "Most people think of air as free, but they don't realize that it needs to be processed through ventilation systems." Ventilation systems, he added, "cost money both to build and to maintain. In times of economic difficulty for the University of California, we need to look carefully at costs, such as the cost of air."

The new Air Consumption Fee will be $1,210.83 per quarter for students on the quarter system and $1,816.25 per semester for students on the semester system. For faculty and staff, the Air Consumption Fee will be 23% of their base salary. University of California's chief economist for the Office of the President, Muss Erhaben, noted, "That may seem like a lot to pay for air, but recent studies have suggested that demand for air is relatively inelastic" and thus not very sensitive to changes in price.

Student, faculty, and staff advocacy groups were predictably outraged by the move. "The sudden imposition of new fees on students, especially in the middle of the academic year, creates enormous hardships, especially for students already in economic difficulty," commented U.C.L.A. student representative Tengo K. Respirar. "For example, I had been hoping for an iPad for Christmas. Instead, my parents will be buying me air."

Others complained that the fee was unfair to those who use less air. "I can stop my heart and breathing for minutes at a time and consume only a half cup of rice and thin broth every day," said Swami B. Retha Litla. "I should not be expected to pay the same as a football player." Donna M. de l'Air, a U.C. Riverside Associate Professor in Comparative Languages and Literatures, noted that the Air Consumption Fee will be deducted from her salary even though she will be on sabbatical in France for winter quarter, and thus will be consuming no University of California air. In response to this concern, a representative of the Office of the President stated that the University of California is working on exchange arrangements with other universities to ensure that professors and students in residence elsewhere will not be double-charged for air.

In related news, the U.C. regents also voted to institute a new tier for employees. Current employees who wish the university to abide by its previous salary and benefits agreements may elect to join the Traditional Plan tier at an annual cost of 50% of their salary. Alternatively, employees may elect to join the New Plan at no charge. The New Plan involves a 50% reduction in salary. "We are proud that in these difficult budgetary times we have been able to abide by all our agreements and avoid salary cuts, at least for staff who pay to join the Traditional Plan," said President Yudof.


Jorgen said...

Well, on the bright side, we can see if capitalism will prove effective where different air-suppliers can charge more for a product of better quality - and given that we're discussing California here, quality air is already difficult to come by.

Anonymous said...

Tengo K. Respirar? Genius!