Students in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets formally complained to corps administration that they are being illegally charged for their uniforms.
A near 3,400-dollar fee includes uniform rental for four years and tailoring services ? the uniforms must be returned upon graduation.
?Students in the corps are only supposed to pay for uniforms, not other things like the tailor shop,? said senior David Weidenhamer.
Weidenhamer said the total uniform cost is about 3,100. He said cadets should not be required to pay the extra ?tailor fee.? Weidenhamer said Department of Defense regulations support his argument.
A program cannot require students to pay more than $25 annually on alterations or maintenance of the uniform, according to the DOD regulations for the Military Academy Uniform Fees Report.
Gen. Jerry Allen of the Corps of Cadets said Weidenhamer had approached him with the concern and he explained the way uniform fees work at Tech.
?The uniform fee is established by the uniform budget process. This fee includes the uniform itself as well as the upkeep of the tailor shop,? Allen said.
Operation of the shop includes all electric and water bills, as well as payroll and general operational costs, Allen said.
Allen said the current rate a student pays in their uniform fee is $3, 375 for their four years in the corps. This includes the tailor shop cost.
Allen said this difference was because they were not including the tailor shop upkeep into that total.
?The way the tailor shop is funded is through these fees. We have to pay the people that work there, and pay to operate the shop,? he said.
Weidenhamer said he felt the students should not have to pay for this operational cost because of the $25 maximum mandated by the DOD.
?The money they make from our uniforms is not supposed to make profit for the school,? he said. ?The general has the tailor shop in mind when the costs are figured.?
Allen said he felt the students concerns were unwarranted because the DOD reimbursed them for their uniforms.
?Students in the ROTC actually profit because of the reimbursement,? he said. ?They get about $3,500 for the four years they are here, which leaves them with extra money in the end.?
Weidenhamer said he understood that they were reimbursed, but didn?t feel like it was enough.
?The thing is, we get that extra couple hundred dollars, but we really should be getting more than that because the uniform fee is too high. That extra money is supposed to be used for dry-cleaning and to give cadets a little bit of spending money, but I guarantee that a lot of cadets spend at least $100 on dry-cleaning a year,? he said.
Weidenhamer said he was also concerned because the school charged cadets full price for uniforms, but uniforms got reused, and weren?t always new when they got them.
?It?s extortion. If we don?t turn our uniforms in, we?re not allowed to graduate and they can block our grades,? Weidenhamer said.
Allen confirmed that the uniforms were reused, and said the fee that students pay is not to buy the uniforms, but to rent them.
?For anything that is new enough to pass along to another person, we?ll do that. If something is too used, we?ll dispose of it in Tech?s disposal system,? he said.
Weidenhamer said he just wanted an explanation for the cost of the uniforms because he felt it was unfair and violated the DOD regulations. He said he was disappointed that Allen had not been more cooperative with the students.
?They may not be hiding anything, but they are not being cooperative at all,? Weidenhamer said.