The decision of almost doubling the fees has come possibly in reaction to Lechner's long stay at the institution, and Wisconsinites have dubbed it the Johnny Lechner rule. It is a valid decision, one that will encourage students to treat colleges and universities for what they are, venues for focused learning, for quenching intellectual thirst and gearing an individual towards becoming a useful member of the society. There are those that consider that this decision will be hard on those like Lechner.
In Lechner's defense, it must be said that he has paid his own fees for the last ten years, by working part time in order to support himself and through student loans, since his parents supported him only for the first two years of his college life. A man can strive to learn more and more for the sake of learning itself, and here is a man that tries to do his bit for society, and volunteers with numerous organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the UW-Whitewater Prairie Restoration Project and Camp Getaway for inner-city Chicago children with AIDS. He is also a good student, who is regular in class, recently made the dean's list with a 4.0 grade-point average for a semester and has got good grades throughout, even managing straight A's in one semester. So one knows that he is not too weak a student to graduate, and is not graduating out of intention, not incapability. One may also argue that a person's life need not necessarily follow a particular mold, that includes education, employment, marriage and retirement, and eventual death, and as long as he or she is not a burden on society a person may want to learn as much as possible, and study in order to do this.
But this is where the contradiction comes in. Lechner has, in fact, been a burden on society these past years, because the subsidies he enjoyed came out of the taxpayer's money. His quest for education was state-sponsored, and the state had to bear a major portion of the cost of his education. With the money used for his majors in diverse subjects like education, communications, theater, women's studies, none of which resulted in graduation and moving on to further studies, or employment.
Further studies for Lechner could have led to research and development in a particular field of interest. Alternatively, employment in any of these fields would have been useful work to the society, whereas even his part-time occupations like singing and songwriting, or waitering at restaurants, though probably commendable in their own right are not directly related to any of his majors. He is not using his education to bolster his career, and his part-time occupation is not helping in his education. The decision to make students like him pay extra tuition therefore, may just be the measure required to encourage them to be an asset to the society rather than a burden.
The decision to increase the fees was also necessary in light of the fact that it might be one of the reasons why Lechner has decided to finally graduate after a 12-year college stint. The recent publicity he has received on account of his longevity as a college student, for instance being featured in the New York Times, David Letterman's show amongst a host of others, including a documentary on him and plans for books has accorded him a celebrity status he had