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For last week's meeting of the UNC-system Board of Governors, member Willie Gilchrist proposed a resolution to hinder campus-based tuition increases for in-state students.

Passage of the resolution would have been a step in the right direction, as it took into account the interests of students at UNC-Chapel Hill and throughout the system. Unfortunately, the BOG failed to pass it.

The measure wasn't the best that it could have been - it was particularly flawed in that it wasn't intended to address nonresident tuition increases. But it still would have sent General Assembly members a much-needed message: Students need a break from tuition increases.

UNC-system President Molly Broad recently recommended a 0 percent systemwide increase, and the BOG seems prepared to follow suit. But the BOG should consider taking the next step and voting down tuition hike scenarios coming from individual campuses - they will affect students just as negatively as any systemwide increases.

In a sense, these tuition debates are all academic. It will be up to state legislators to decide tuition policy. And remarks about the state budget by N.C. House Co-speaker Richard Morgan, R-Moore, indicate that tuition hikes could be coming, regardless of what the BOG or anyone else says.

But the BOG still can set the tone for discussion, especially when their sentiment is coupled with Broad's recommendation for a systemwide freeze. That advice could make a substantive difference in the framing of legislators' tuition debates.

If the General Assembly gets the idea that campus and system administrators have legitimate concerns about tuition increases this year, then there might not be any. At the very least, those concerns could create a call for a smaller hike.

The Gilchrist resolution would have contributed to this unified front. It's too bad that the BOG ultimately didn't recognize this opportunity to stick to a consistent theme.

In future meetings, the BOG should consider sending a clear message - there should be no tuition increases this year.

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