Wear the square
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 23:01
We endorse the efforts of ASOSU’s new “Wear the Square” campaign to rally students at Oregon State University against a proposed $432 tuition raise forced upon us after last year’s $468 tuition hike.
Tuition hikes are nothing new here at OSU — they’ve gone up exponentially over the last decade — but we’ve had enough of them. Year after year, we are asked to pay more for an education that has not increased in quality, as the potential value of our degrees decrease.
The campaign gets its name from a movement started in Quebec, in February 2012, after the provincial government proposed to increase tuition. The students went on strike and in less than six weeks, over 300,000 students joined the movement, which culminated in a march of an estimated 400,000 people in Montreal. The demonstration was one of the largest in Canadian history, and by Sept. 15, 2012, provincial officials agreed to freeze tuition and students returned to class.
We’re not saying we want everyone at OSU to go “Quebec” on Salem, because such tactics should only be resorted to when necessary. But Oregon students are in a historic position to use their power. Over 50,000 students registered for the last election, and tuition equity is near the top of the legislative agenda over the next two years. Students have the power to change things, and we must use our power on something that affects all of us: the cost of tuition.
The state has continued to contribute less and less to higher education over the years, to the point where the state is now paying more for prisons than it is for schools. The state spends about $30,000 per prisoner yearly, while the state’s contribution per student at its two major research universities has declined to about $4,331, making Oregon 46th in the nation in terms of per-student contributions to higher education. This is unacceptable, especially because of the new 40-40-20 mandate that desires to have 40 percent of the population educated with a bachelor’s degree or better by 2025.
University officials will tell you that the increase in tuition is beyond their control, and will point to the diminishing investment the state makes in higher education, and they are right to a certain point. The university has also done little to keep costs under control, having embarked on one new capital construction project after another, and continuing to add staff to a bloated administration. We demand the university rein in costs in order to keep tuition down for the very reason this institution exists, to educate students.
This university was created by the citizens of Oregon in order to educate the people of this state. But unless more investments are made by the state, and efforts are made by the university administration to keep costs in check, a university education will be out of reach for too many deserving Oregonians.
We urge you to wear the square, to write your state legislator and to participate in upcoming events to help keep tuition down. Salem is listening, we just need to make sure our voices are loud enough to be heard.
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