Tuition is high, collaboration needed
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 02:02
Student leaders have recently called on officials at Oregon State University to agree to a zero percent tuition increase. President Ed Ray responded by saying such a move would be premature this early in the legislative budget process.
A zero percent tuition increase may be unreasonable. But university officials who threaten to cut funding to tuition waivers to low income students, cut funding to class sections and classified employee positions are obviously just trying to scare students into towing the party line.
No one at the university, whether they are students slaving away with pipettes in the basement in Gilbert or an official in a suit lording over the university from the sixth floor of Kerr, would disagree that tuition has increased far too rapidly at OSU. Yes, the biggest reason this has happened is because of the state’s disinvestment from higher education. However, year after year university officials have simply passed these costs along to us, the students, without tightening their own belts.
While the state continued to spend less on higher education, OSU embarked on a decade-long construction spree. Everyone loves shiny new buildings, but much like a monarch or dictator who continues to build gilded palaces as the peasants they serve starve, so have administrators continued to use tuition increases as a blank check to spend on whatever they want.
We feel it is possible for this university to tighten its belt some. Donors love brand new-buildings with their names on them, but why can’t a larger portion of the $900 million raised by the Campaign for OSU be spent on keeping the cost of education down for students? Claiming cuts have been made because of reshufflings, and name changes to departments mean nothing. All the wizard’s smoke and mirrors can’t hide that the university’s bureaucracy is bloated and more positions continue to be added every year.
Saying it is alright for students to continue to take out more student loans is unfeasible. Increasing the cost of a college education like this every year is taking a four-year degree out of reach for too many Oregonians — and something needs to change.
But it is also unfeasible to get more money from the state if student leaders are going to engage in a pissing match with university officials. Student leaders need to reasonable in their demands and frankly, a tuition freeze isn’t reasonable. Perhaps tying tuition increases to inflation or cost of living increases is. Given the university’s finances and the state’s reluctance to spend any more on higher education, a tuition freeze couldn’t work.
Student leaders need to collaborate with university officials on making tuition reasonable for students and officials need to stop viewing students as a well of money that never runs dry.
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