As further state budget cuts loom over the University, student body president candidates are preparing for the inevitable.
The candidates all have their sights on softening potential tuition hikes and examining student fees so students get the most of what they are paying for.
Hopefuls on tuition
In their platforms, the student body president candidates advocate a variety of different approaches to preventing increases in tuition and fees.
Mary Cooper, junior from Nashville, Tenn., wants to focus the Carolina Advocacy Committee exclusively on tuition-related issues.
Rick Ingram, junior from Asheville, wants to engage the student body to help the “at risk” category not covered by Carolina Covenant.
Ian Lee, junior from Cary, wants to create a study with faculty and administrators to examine the cost of an undergraduate education.
Brooklyn Stephens, junior from Wake Forest, wants to create a report that shows where tuition costs are going.
Student Body President Hogan Medlin and University officials said the ideal student body president would be, above all else, well-informed, allowing them to better relate to legislators and administrators.
Not a ‘brick wall’
Medlin said the most effective way for the student body president to impact tuition is to create a continuing dialogue with state legislators to express the concerns of students.
“It’s not like you’re talking to a brick wall,” he said.
Candidate Rick Ingram said working in the General Assembly last summer taught him how to speak with legislators, and he thinks his experience will be helpful when advocating for students.
Candidate Mary Cooper said she plans to use a group of students to target specific legislators to make lobbying for effective.
According to candidate Brooklyn Stephens’s platform, she plans to advocate for students in Raleigh. Stephens did not respond to interview requests.
Medlin said legislators respond particularly well to specific examples of the impact of budget cuts and tuition hikes on students.
“If we’re not there, they don’t hear the stories of students,” he said.
Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said Medlin’s advocating for the University was a significant reason revenue from tuition hikes last year remained on campus.
Candidate Ian Lee said he plans to approach tuition by pushing for a cost-based tuition system that would charge students for the cost of an individual education.
“We should look at what we want a Carolina education to be and the cost to provide that,” he said.
Lee said the plan would create a wish list of goals, such as smaller classes and better advising.
Carney said the student body president has influence on tuition because they have a vote in the Board of Trustees.
He said it is important to have a student perspective on the board because the conversations seek to strike a balance between keeping the University affordable and maintaining a high quality of academics.
“They collide when it comes to tuition sometimes,” he said.
Finding the right fees
The candidates have expressed an interest in making student fees more efficient, more transparent, and, if possible, cheaper.
Cooper and Ingram said they want to perform fee audits to evaluate the effectiveness and necessity of each fee.
Ingram’s platform, which aims to cut fees in order to offset tuition hikes, includes a restructuring plan for fees with several specific items targeted.
“These are simple starting points,” he said.
Lee said he plans to determine which items in student fees are necessary.
“It’s all about the details and finding unique ways to get more with what we have,” he said.
Medlin said the next student body president will need a strong treasurer to examine the fees.
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