Ithaca, N.Y. — Cornell students angered by a new $350 healthcare fee protested inside the university’s Day Hall and entered the lobby outside of President David Skorton’s office on Monday, according to multiple reports on social media.

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A video posted on Facebook at around 1 p.m. showed a few dozen students outside of Skorton’s office.

The video shows Skorton listening as one student criticized the fee and called on others to “organize your own action” to fight it.

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Student demonstrators in the lobby outside Skorton’s office

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.30.37 PMBackground on the fee

From The Voice’s Kyle Friend:

Skorton said in a message to the university on Thursday that funding healthcare services at Cornell has become a “growing fiscal challenge” and a personal concern for him.

The new change will impact 70 percent of undergraduates, 30 percent of graduate students, and 10 percent of professional students, Skorton said.

Whereas previously the 70 percent of students without Cornell’s healthcare did not have to pay a fee, that same group will now pay $350 a year. That’s because of increased costs at Gannett, according to Skorton.

Officials have also said that the new fee will offset the costs “that discourage some privately-insured students from seeking medical care at Gannett,” according to the Cornell Daily Sun.

“Although introducing a new fee is never desirable, moving to a model that includes a health fee – a standard in college health nationwide – will make student costs more predictable and encourage them to seek the care they need,” Skorton said in a statement.

Protests sparked

In yet another excellent piece of reporting at the Cornell Daily Sun, reporter Sofia Hu tracked down why some students were angered by the new fee:

“The University rolled out the fee with minor student input, according to several students and Student Assembly representatives. …

Skorton acknowledged representatives’ concerns about the lack of transparency and student involvement in the University’s decision to implement the fee at the S.A. meeting Thursday.

“This feels like a unilateral decision made by higher-ups in the University,” said Matthew Stefanko ’16, at-large representative for the S.A, at the meeting. “There was very limited conversation and when we had that conversation, it felt like those decisions had already been made.”

Protesters today criticized the fee and how the university made the announcement with, they said, little to no student input, courtesy of @FightTheFee on Twitter.

Here are some images from the protests today:

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A university spokesperson, Syl Kacapyr, confirmed that there were dozens of students in the hallways of Day Hall, the university’s administrative hub.

Other Tweets from @FightTheFee:

From @FightTheFee’s Twitter page
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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.