Apr 062008
Authors: Sean Reed

History has a funny way of repeating itself in Colorado.

In a move very similar to last year’s attempted amendment to the Long Bill by our own President Larry Penley, Wednesday, Tim Foster, president of Mesa State College, added a footnote to the state budget that would empower school administrators to add an additional $5 per credit hour to tuition. For full time students, this could mean an extra $60-$100 per semester next year.

Unlike last year, however, there was no Luke Ragland to come in and save the day. This time, the change passed, and the bill awaits Gov. Bill Ritter’s signature.

Now, it is not the increase itself that is the most upsetting. We hear it time and time again — higher education in Colorado is in trouble. We, as a state, are the worst in our record for the funding of higher education in the nation.

Since universities cannot rely on the taxpayers to give them the money they so desperately need, they have to find it elsewhere — and it usually comes out of students’ pockets.

I don’t like it, but I get it.

However, there is a right and a wrong way to go about requesting tuition hikes.

Similar to last year’s Long Bill controversy, this year, student leaders learned about bill only twenty minutes before its passage.

Naturally, they feel they were left out of the process. And it would probably not be a stretch to assume the lack of consultation with students was purposeful.

This is the wrong way to go about a tuition increase.

Cutting student leadership out of the equation is not only reprehensible in that it shows a complete lack of regard for the community university administrators are supposed to serve — the students — but is also an extremely cowardly way to go about it.

It’s easy to understand why Foster and Penley have tried to cut students out — students will be apprehensive to tuition increases, no matter the justification. This resistance makes it harder to get things past.

However, that is not to say that students will never begrudgingly support a tuition increase.

Administrators may not want to give us the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes down to it, most students understand the dire state of higher education funding, and if keeping our institution to date requires us to dig a bit deeper in our pockets in the short term, we’ll do it.

Just look at the Student Fee Review Board. The SFRB is a body composed of students that approves the use of student fees. For the fiscal year 2009, the SFRB approved roughly $65 in increases, with another $15 pending for the Athletics Department, which is likely to pass. That comes out to a likely $80 in increases that students voluntarily imposed on themselves.

And how did it happen? Campus departments came to the SFRB and pitched their proposal and proved the need for the increases.

If university administrators really need the money, and can prove it, there is no reason they can’t run increased tuition proposals past students first. They would be surprised by the reaction they receive.

If they continue to push these proposals behind students’ backs, however, it will only serve to increase hostility between administrators and students.

We all want the same thing; maybe administrators should try working with students instead of against them.

Editorials editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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