You Break It You Buy It

One of my summertime tasks is to purchase the consumables, equipment, and chemicals necessary for the next school year. We have not collected lab or breakage fees since I began working at Dominican. My impression is that it is common for schools to collect lab fees or at least require students to purchase glassware that they break. I think that the consensus at Dominican has been that after collecting $30,000 per student for their private college education it is adding insult to injury to ask for another $50 lab fee. Personally, I am happy that we do not collect breakage fees. broken_beakerBreakage fees encourage students to hide their mishaps. Students have a tendency to hide accidents even if they are not going to be charged for breakage. Collecting breakage fees also requires the instructor to be “the enforcer” and be the source of even more pain and agony for students than he or she already is. We have three or four lab sections sharing the same lab drawers so it would not be fair to charge students for glassware that is missing from their drawers at the end of the semester. On the other hand, students do break glassware that has to be replaced at a certain cost to the school. As far as lab fees go, lets face it, colleges spend much more for the education of a science major than any other student major. This is especially true for primarily undergraduate institutions that are getting very little, if any, grant funding. Should this added expense be reflected in how much science majors are charged for their education?


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