First and foremost, I want to be clear: my goal is to hear from the student body so that I can be the best advocate that I can be. At the end of the day, despite all of the other tasks that I do, my job is to represent the student voice, and that is exactly what I’m going to do.
This is a unique year. Our budget lost $100.7 million this year, bringing our total cuts in the last four years to more than $300 million. In the past, we’ve been able to cut non-academic parts of the University, but now we’ve lost 500 course sections. That’s 16,000 seats gone — at best, students sit on the floor in overcrowded classrooms, and at worst, it will take them extra time to graduate. Our faculty went a fourth year without an increase in salary. These drastic cuts have left the University administration wondering how to ensure that a UNC degree is meaningful anywhere in this world.
But before anyone decides what to do, I need to hear from you. As one of 13 members of the Board of Trustees, I have a vote on the tuition proposal. Before I vote, I need to know what matters most to you. We’re emailing student organizations to see if they would be interested in having a member of the executive branch team give a presentation on the budget and tuition. We’re having five public forums — one each night between Monday and Nov. 11. No policy has been set in stone for next year, and up until the moment that it has, student government’s number-one priority is to garner your feedback.
Moreover, a college education has never been more important, and UNC’s challenge to make college affordable is part of a national conversation. In a New York Times column on Monday, David Brooks wrote, “Over the past several decades, the economic benefits of education have steadily risen. In 1979, the average college graduate made 38 percent more than the average high school graduate, according to the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke. Now the average college graduate makes more than 75 percent more.” Education is essential and ensuring that there is access to higher education is a priority. That’s where the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid comes in. Our dedication to covering the needs of students regardless of tuition increases has been – and will continue to be — essential.
Ultimately, no decision has been made. Take a minute to let me know what you think. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org about the cost to students if there is an increase.