In October of 2017, the Student Fee Audit Committee (SFAC) unanimously opposed the fee, citing concerns about the ability of middle class students to pay the fee and the prohibitive nature of the fee.
In solidarity with these students, this board is running an updated version of the exact editorial we ran last year. We are lobbying students, faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees to put a stop to this fee, once and for all. The Business School should seek other sources of funding.
Affordability and equity are hallmark values of our University. These values are even cemented in Article 9 of North Carolina’s constitution, which reads: “public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, (shall) be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
We invoke these values now because of a proposal from the University’s Business School to charge undergraduates an effective tuition raise.
We stand against this measure and urge undergraduates to make their voices heard by their student government representatives. The all-student SFAC serves as the first committee to review fee change proposals.
At the beginning of every other year, the fee review process moves from the SFAC to the Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee, the Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force, the Chancellor, the Board of Trustees and then the decision lies with the Board of Governors.
Because this money is a fee and not a tuition raise, it cannot be put toward academic endeavors such as hiring professors; it can only be used for specific program implementation. Tuition, in contrast, is determined by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Read more: Faculty Executive Committee debates the effects of proposed business school fee.
Our board objects to this prohibitively expensive non-academic fee increase. Should it pass, this fee would set a precedence of exceptionalism — that programs can charge students based off the perceived worth of the programs.
Students should have equal access to all areas of study. This editorial board is unconvinced by the submitted proposal that the Business School has this key tenet of UNC’s values in mind.
Doug Shackleford, dean of the Business School, admitted in a News & Observer article that the process of deciding the fee was not a scientific process. “I think we thought that figure sounded about a reasonable amount. If you think it should be higher, we would accept the higher figure.”
As this fee is deliberated, it is crucially important that you — students, faculty and staff at the University — share your thoughts on this proposal with the Executive Branch of Student Government and through letters to the editor. This fee is being proposed through a fairly bureaucratic mechanism that can easily go unnoticed.
But it is precisely by paying attention to and engaging early with these avenues that we can insist our university lives up to its core values. Should this fee fail yet again, this would be a victory for students and for the future of our university. Should the Business School re-propose this fee next year year, we will seek a victory yet again.