Free deodorant, and other fringe benefits of tuition

By Russ Davis

Usuallyfar too often, possibly—I find myself complaining about the cost of attending the University of Washington Tacoma. I mean, okay, it isn’t as expensive as other four-year universities, and the education you get is well worth it. But once in a while, I’ll find something that will feel like what I’m getting isn’t worth the $3,950 (give or take $50) I pay for a quarter of being a student here.

For example, I once griped to someone about how bare-bones the Financial Aid office is. If you need financial aid help, there are only two people who can see you. Granted, my financial aid counselor is awesome (Kim, this shout-out’s for you), but sometimes I wonder how they can manage.

“There are 4,000 students at this school,” I’ll say.  “I’m paying $4,000 per quarter in tuition! Some students are paying even more! Why are there only two financial aid advisors? What is my tuition paying for, apart from nicer office furniture and more deputy administrators?” That part deserves consideration: 21 percent of UWT’s 2011-12 budget went to overhead and faculty administration.

Most of the budget goes to instruction. I guess I should be thankful for this, but as far as I’m concerned, that means more than $100,000 is going to the instructors I’ve had who spend their entire classes bashing capitalism while enjoying well-paying tenured employment. (Fun footnote: Want to know how much your professors make? The Washington State Office of Financial Management has a searchable database of all state employees, including UW faculty: http://fiscal.wa.gov/Salaries.aspx.)

My point is, there’s a reason for me to get angry about the steep cost of tuition. Then something interesting happened. I visited the Student Health Services clinic for sore throat treatment. While I was there, the nurses told me that their clinic, which is open until 6:00 P.M. on most days, is underused because so few students know about it. It made me realize that there are countless institutions UWT students can take advantage of, but, by and large, don’t—possibly because they don’t know about them.

You may be wondering what Student Health Services is. I’ll explain that, and some more cool perks that your tuition covers each quarter.


  • Student Health Services: The student clinic, located at 1742 Market Street, is run in partnership with Franciscan Medical Group. Treatment is provided by Heather Gulian and Erin Degraffenreid, two nurses with excellent bedside manner. Lab tests will cost an extra fee; all other treatments are free.
  • Student Counseling Center: In the Office of Student Success in MAT 354. Trained psychologists and doctoral interns are available for free counseling.
  • Career Services: Located in MAT 106.  Jake Nelko provides free counsel on making the transition from college to career, including connections on jobs and internships. The sweetest part? This is a perk that continues (for free) after you graduate.
  • Fitness and Recreation: Are you a gamer? The oUWTpost (first floor of the MAT) has a PS3 and Xbox 360—and over 50 games available to borrow from Fitness and Recreation (just present your Student ID). They also offer free recreational and intramural groups, such as yoga; operate a fitness center for both strength and cardio in the WCG ground floor; and—this was handy for me the other day—keep a bin full of free deodorant.  
  • Student Clubs: There are 65 student organizations registered with UWT. Some of these organizations are open for general admission, such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Soccer Club, while others are interest- and major-specific, such as Psychology Club and Women in Computing Science.


There are possibly more, but this serves as a useful surface scratch. Now I know where to go to get free treatment for a cold, and where to go for job placement assistance when I’m due to leave the cocoon that is UWT. Also—and this perk cannot be overstated—I now know where to go for a free stick of deodorant.