Is money an object for you?

The acute, cancerous ineptitude of the U’s student body never ceases to amaze me. Year after year, U students stand idly by in a cloud of vapor while the Utah State Legislature guts higher education funding and subsequently raises the U’s tuition.

In 2000, the cost of tuition for 12 hours, after fees, was $1,220.40. Sounds reasonable, right? Seven years later, reason has disappeared. If you are taking 12 hours this semester, you are paying $1,983.85. This is a 62% increase, or $763.45. If tuition keeps increasing at current rates, the class of 2011 (freshman) will be paying more than $3,000 for 12 credit hours.

College is already out of reach for countless young people in Utah and across the nation. If we allow tuition to rise at its current rate, then we are heading for catastrophe. Hopefully, many of us are asking how we can stop such a thing from happening, especially freshmen and sophomores!

There is a motive behind this continuous gift of increased student debt from the Utah Legislature. To put it bluntly, U students really don’t seem to give a damn–at least politically–about rising tuition costs. As long as we continue our political silence and never utter a word of protest to the Legislature, it will continue to raise our tuition and focus its priorities elsewhere.

I am not only suggesting direct action and protest against the Legislature. U students need to initiate some sort of dialogue with their representatives. Roughly 30,000 people live in an average Utah housing district. Despite this, a legislator thinks the entire district is revolting if they receive 20 personal e-mails or letters from people in his or her district about a single issue. One of the political benefits of the U student body is that we come from all over the Salt Lake Valley and parts of Davis County. We could jam three-fourths of the legislators’ inboxes with e-mails demanding lower tuition.

The Legislature is set to launch another financial missile toward our campus next Monday. Weekly, until Feb. 28, members of the Higher Education Appropriations Committee and the House and Senate Education Sub-committees will be meeting to set the fate of our future.

We need to be in those meetings, raising hell and showing that we actually care about what happens at our school. Hopefully, Associated Students of the University of Utah Government Relations will be organizing students in letter-writing campaigns and trips to the Hill to demand more funding. If they are not, we need to demand it of them.

The job description of ASUU Government Relations Board reads, “The board is responsible for educating and mobilizing the student body in their lobbying efforts and in raising political awareness on campus.” (Ingrid Price is the current director of the ASUU Government Relations Board and can be reached at 581-2788).

In a perfect world, U students would have full control over our policies and agenda. Student body elections would be about higher education funding and working as a student body to make our community a better place to live. Real, deliberative Democratic control is the answer we are looking for.

Until that happens, though, U students need to be proactive in the current process. We need to get over our passive, immature attitudes and step up.

Then again, if you want to be paying $7,000 for tuition, just continue the present flaccid attitude and watch as your student debt reaches the atmosphere. It’s your future.