Correction (Dec. 29 9:03 p.m.): Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there were two students on the UNC-CH Tuition Task Force, the Student Body President and the Student Body Vice-President. There are actually three students, as the GPSF President, Keith Lee is also on the task force. The story has been changed to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
As campuses draft their tuition proposals for 2010-11, student body presidents across the UNC system are making sure to interject students’ voices into the debate.
They’re becoming more active in the process than in past years because of concern regarding the tuition hike instituted by the N.C. General Assembly this summer to help close the budget gap.
The hike is the lesser of either 8 percent or $200, and the revenue generated will go to the state’s general fund — meaning that students will bear an extra cost without the assurance that the money will go to higher education.
In response, the presidents have drafted legislation opposing the hike at their schools and through the Association of Student Governments, which is responsible for coordinating activities between the 17 UNC-system schools.
“I certainly want to make sure that the tuition and fees students pay are going back to them and not to balance the budget,” said UNC-Charlotte SBP Joey Lemons.
Presidents said their goal is to make sure that the increase is enough to support universities’ progress, but low enough to keep costs affordable.
“We are trying to get to a break-even point to maintain our low price but keep the academic quality,” said UNC-Wilmington SBP Mark Blackwell.
There will be open forums at most campuses this week to educate students about the tuition process, said ASG President Greg Doucette.
“We agreed to be as visible as possible,” he said.
Presidents also said they’ve been talking to chancellors and board members about their concerns.
About 24 students representing most of the UNC-system schools attended the Board of Governors meeting last week, said N.C. State University SBP Jim Ceresnak.
“BOG members were blown away by the turnout of students,” he said.
The board requires student participation in the tuition process, said Rob Nelson, vice-president for finance for the UNC system.
“We ask each campus to document student participation because it’s very important for the students to have an opportunity to participate at the campus level,” Nelson said.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, three students, SBP Jasmin Jones, Student Body Vice President David Bevevino and GPSF President Keith Lee were on the tuition task force.
UNC-system President Erskine Bowles announced plans to request that the legislature allow universities to keep at least 50 percent of the revenue generated by a state-mandated tuition hike to supplement funding for need-based aid.
Students need to join administrators as they lobby the legislature, Blackwell said.
“The student body president can have a lot of pull if they are willing to take action on those issues,” he said. “What we are doing is joining the fight.”
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