Friday, March 15, 2013

LESS T speaks out against tuition increases for 2013-2014!

Written by Joanna Stewart

Today, students from the LESS T coalition and other student groups on campus came to a public meeting put on by the University surrounding tuition increases. The meeting was facilitated by two administrators, Jim Bean, University Provost, and Brad Shelton, Vice President of Budget and Planning. There were over 40 students (undergraduate and graduate) there including classified staff who work on campus. We received a presentation on next year's proposed tuition increases and how we match up to other universities. The meeting was one hour long in the Jacqua Center. 

It was stated by students that this was not a well-publicized meeting and how it was extremely inconvenient for students considering it is our dead week. They went through a presentation that lasted about 20 minutes. The rest of the time became for questions and discussion. 

We found out that the University of Oregon will be recommending a 4.5% increase in tuition for in-state students for the 2013-2014 school year. They will be recommending a 3.45% increase in tuition for non-residents. Residents will be paying $186 per credit hour compared to $178 for 2012-2013. Non-residents will be paying $629 per credit hour compared to $608 for 2012-2013. 

This is the smallest increase percentage in about five years. 

Although it is a smaller increase than previous years, the burden on students is all the same. There is a clear connection between the constant increase of tuition and the growing debt of college students. This leaves students with an enormous financial burden during school and afterwards, which impedes their financial participation in Oregon's economy. 

Oregon's contribution to public universities has been cut from 10.7% to 4.9% of the state budget. The state's current contribution to the UO budget is now just 7% of the university's total budget, leaving the university no choice but to seek alternative sources of income and, unfortunately, financially burdening students. 

There is currently no immediate need to increase tuition any more. Students are not seeing actual benefits from the increases that the University is advocating for to meet the demands. 

These are our demands:
We want a tuition freeze now!
We demand immediate structural changes that will include students' voices in the decision-making process.
We demand a student voting majority on all decision-making processes at the University and on the state board.
We demand that University administrators work with students to prioritize state higher education funding. 

Students asked multiple times how we can be part of the process and that we want to be major contributors in these decisions that affect us so heavily. We constantly were pushed away from our questions and were told that they cannot do anything about NOT increasing tuition at the University of Oregon.

Please check back soon to see what we will be doing to say that this is not an answer we are willing to accept!