From the president: Tuition hikes aren’t arbitrary

By Tayler Clough, ASUU President

Who isn’t tired of hearing about the economic woes cyclical to our financial system? Aside from forcing us to seek out dollar movies and lunch specials with a new vigor, what do faulty loans mean for us in this coming year? To start, we have a 9.6 percent increase in tuition. To the untrained eye, this increase might seem like a desperate response from high-paid professionals who are interested in keeping their country club memberships. The truth, however, is far less brow-raising and believing anything but would just be stupid.

Despite popular belief, tuition is not controlled by a tight circle of administrators looking to squeeze students’ financial life force. Instead, administrators, like many professors, spend their time lobbying to keep it low. Who then is the culprit behind condemning students to a life of Top Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches? Power over tuition is channeled through two levels consisting of numerous people and time-consuming discussions about what tuition increases would provide for student education and university needs.

The first tier of tuition has been delegated to an important-sounding state body of gubernatorial appointments known as the Board of Regents. In their decisions for each year, the Regents take into account how much it costs for the university to employ its professionals (this includes professors). Much of the board’s decisions reflect legislators’ opinions and precedence, begging the question: How many of us as students have actually lobbied these representatives to keep tuition low?

If a university feels it is necessary to seek a tuition increase on top of what has already been set by the Board of Regents, its administration and Board of Trustees must ask the Regents to approve the additional increase, but by law, university officials must make their reasons public to the students. The U fulfills this statute at the annual Truth in Tuition meeting hosted by Senior Vice President David Pershing, Associate Vice President Paul Brinkman, and the ASUU president and vice president. On occasion, as is true for the coming year, the Board of Regents may require that a small portion of the tuition increase be allocated to need-based student aid.

So, why did you waste your time reading this information? You spent your time reading to understand that: A) Administrators do not receive cushioned benefits, nor do they act alone in bringing about tuition increases, B) tuition increases only reflect the university’s basic needs for retaining quality professors and programs, and C) the way to keep tuition low is by taking an active role in lobbying legislators. Bottom line: Let’s forget the myths of option A, consider option B, and pursue option C; anything else would just be stupid.

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Tayler Clough