ASOSU launches campaign against tuition hikes
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 01:01
In response to the ever-rising cost of tuition, student leaders at Oregon State University are launching a campaign to demand more state funding of higher education.
The “Wear the Square” campaign, which began yesterday, hopes to build a movement growing off of ASOSU’s successful voter registration drive this fall. For the campaign, students are encouraged to wear red cloth squares on their clothing in order to show solidarity with the movement.
According to Dan Cushing, ASOSU vice president, the campaign hopes to build a grassroots movement to get elected officials to address continued increases in tuition.
Last year tuition rose 6.9 percent at OSU, which, while lower than the year before (8.1 percent increase), continued a trend of ever increasing tuition at the state’s public universities that has remained constant over the last decade.
At the same time, the state of Oregon’s contribution to higher education has been lower. Last biennium, the state legislature approved $691 million for higher education— a 16 percent decrease from the 2009-2011 biennium.
Amelia Harris, ASOSU president, said who has to pay the bill for higher education has changed, with students now paying more for their education as the state has disinvested itself from funding higher education.
“We are lobbying on their behalf, making sure regular students are concerned about the rising cost of tuition,” said Alex Ries, ASOSU director of campus affairs.
ASOSU will be passing out the red squares in the Memorial Union quad for the next week and is planning several events in the future to educate students and to protest the rising cost of tuition. Teach-ins, sit-ins and protests are currently in the works, although no dates have yet been set.
“We need to hold elected officials responsible and we feel that unless the student body as a whole is not involved, it won’t be successful,” Cushing said.
The movement gets its name from the 2012 protest movement in Quebec that began after the provincial government there increased the cost of tuition. Demonstrations there in May 2012 drew an estimated 300,000 people protesting the rise in tuition, some of the largest seen in Canadian history.
Harris said the Associated Students at Western Oregon University have also agreed to participate in the campaign and added there is a “Wear the Square” group formed at Portland State University.
“The Human Resources Service Center is serving more students than ever before because more students qualify for the Mealbux program and are using the food pantry,” Harris said. “What happens when you can’t even pay for food and tuition goes up?”
Cushing said that all students are invited to participate in the campaign and encouraged students to visit the ASOSU website. “This is an issue that truly affects everyone,” Cushing said.
Don Iler, editor-in-chief