The Tuition Advisory Task Force's recommendations made up a small step of a lengthy process, but the group missed a major opportunity to send trustees a message that exploitative increases are unwanted.
The task force presented three recommendations to the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, calling for an in-state tuition hike of $250 to $350 and an out-of-state tuition increase of $800 to $1200.
That's simply too much. In a year following major campus-based increases, we need a tuition freeze.
The task force was assembled this year with a very narrow focus - to research increases within the trustees' pre-stated philosophy. The group included two consistently involved members of the BOT for the first time since campus-based tuition increases began.
It's important to note that the task force is not a body representative of student interests - in purpose or in composition.
The committee consists of the student body president, two other BOT members, three other students, five faculty members and three administrators.
Student body vice president Alexa Kleysteuber noted in a letter to The Daily Tar Heel in October that the committee is "bound by the BOT's tuition philosophy to raise in-state tuition to no higher than the 25th percentile of our peer institutions and out-of-state tuition to no higher than the 75th percentile."
In student government's October Report, an analysis of progress made by student officers since the beginning of their term in April, officials noted that the committee had worked to "set suggested priorities for the uses of a potential tuition increase. These priorities include need-based financial aid, faculty salaries and decreases in class size, among others."
It's unfortunate that the tuition task force has been relegated to a less prominent role. It's not voicing recommendations that advocate for students or faculty - it's simply taking care of the details to justify the trustees' spending student money.
The reasons are understandable. Last year's tuition task force recommended a $300 increase for all students, without the extra burden on out-of-state students, and got railroaded by those set on increasing out-of-state tuition by greater amounts.
Former Student Body President Matt Tepper wasn't able to stop the trustees from pushing the exploitative increases through, but he at least made an effort to present alternatives.
This year, there are no indications that such an effort is in the works.
Coming off of landmark campus-based tuition increases last year, students need a break.
UNC-CH students saw increases of $366.50 for in-state students and a historic increase of $1,616.50 for out-of-state students last year. Add $250 and $800 to those numbers, respectively, and you've got a substantial amount of money that students weren't planning on paying when they came to the University.
It's understandable that tuition task force members want to pass a resolution that they believe will survive the Board of Trustees.
But such a proposal undermines efforts on the part of opponents of tuition increases. It allows proponents of tuition hikes to claim that students want or are resigned to these increases.
Efforts were being made during the last meeting of the UNC-system Board of Governors meeting to pass a resolution that would have prevented consideration of campus-based tuition increases, and there's reason to believe that BOG members are more reluctant to pass the burden onto students than are the trustees. And it's striking that the BOG seems more amenable to eliminating campus-based hikes than a tuition task force with student members appears to be.
It's still reasonable to aim for tuition increases of a lower magnitude. Recommendations like the one handed down by the tuition task force make a feeble attempt to save money for students. We've been hit hard the last few years. It's time for a break.
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