SALT LAKE CITY — Not that the University of Utah needs another reason to be competitive with BYU, but according to a report in this week’s The Daily Utah Chronicle the state is “Getting the Best Price for the U.”
“Students at any school are upset with their student fees and how much they have to pay, and so when people start to learn that students at other schools aren’t paying as much for the same services, they start to get pretty frustrated,” said Emily Anderson, the Chronicle’s editor-in-chief.
For more than a year now, she and investigative editor Elise Bailey have been chipping away at this week’s news feature where they revealed that the Utah Transit Authority charges UVU, BYU and other local institutions less than the U. for their student transportation passes.
The U. is shelling out about $110 per pass. BYU and UVU, for example, about $20.
Their story idea came to light after they heard late North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor, then a UTA trustee, called those prices for BYU and UVU “crazy" and "totally inappropriate.”
“He did do a lot of work muckraking in the UTA and due to him that we even took a lot of notice to the story,” said Anderson.
As the student journalists discovered, Mayor Taylor wasn’t alone with his concerns.
“When we looked at it, I don’t want to say that we were being cheated, because we’re not, we have a very good deal. They have a better one,” said Alma Allred, executive director of commuter services at the University of Utah.
But as Allred, UTA officials, and this week’s article explain, the issue is complicated.
“We have between 8 and 10,000 people a day who arrive on campus and I would be surprised to find out if there are even 2,000 seats arriving at Weber State or 4,000 and UVU or BYU,” said Allred.
Their hard work is creating some noise.
“I think it deserves a review and a taking a look at. Again, we had assumptions. That’s the problem with a long term contract, you make assumptions and some of those didn’t come to fruition,” said UTA trustee Carlton Christensen.
They’re making more students aware of what they’re paying for.
“Students kind of don’t know about things like this," said Bailey. "At every school, it’s hidden in some other fee what they pay for UTA passes and so they don’t necessarily have the knowledge necessary on their own to say, ‘I don’t agree with this. I don’t think it’s right.’ So part of journalism is always uncovering those hidden things."
The student journalists say BYU passes include some ski bus services and their families can ride too.
Let the rivalry continue.