The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday April 1st

Students for a Democratic Society plans to oppose potential tuition increases

The University’s most vocal protest group in recent years, UNC’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society is raising its collective voice in opposition to tuition hikes.

A group of 12 members met Wednesday to discuss how a recent administrative proposal to raise tuition by 40 percent during the next two to four years might damage UNC’s reputation as the university of the people.

Group members also discussed how they would mobilize to protest hikes.

The group, along with a coalition of non-members, plans to attend the tuition and fee advisory task force meeting Monday to protest tuition increases, said Sean Langberg, a sophomore member.

On Wednesday, SDS also plans to march from the Pit to the Carolina Inn, where a committee of the Board of Trustees will be discussing the proposal.

As the group met in Saunders Hall, Student Body President Mary Cooper held a forum for students to express their opinions on tuition hikes.

The group attended Cooper’s previous three forums and came away dissatisfied, Langberg said.

“The University needs to be more creative in making budget solutions,” senior and SDS member Caitlin Williams said.

Members continually expressed concern about whether the University will still be able to attract bright, diverse students despite higher tuition.

“This is not going to be the University of the people — it will become the University of the elite,” said senior Ana Maria Reichenbach, a member of the group.

At the meeting, members questioned the fate of students who are already struggling, such as students paying out-of-state tuition or students receiving financial aid.

“Raising tuition only multiplies the number of students who need financial aid,” member Andy Koch said.

Additionally, members asked why potential students would choose UNC over a private school if the tuitions were similar.

“We’re going to do a disservice to future students if we don’t stop these events now,” said Luke Sherry, a graduate student in sociology.

The group discussed why the University would remain more attractive to students than similar peer institutions, such as the University of Virginia, as teacher retention decreases and class sizes increase.

“Our ranking is decreasing because we can’t retain teachers when we’re not paying them enough while we’re continually giving raises to institutions like the athletic department,” Sherry said.

Senior Laurel Ashton asked why UNC was following what its peer institutions have implemented rather than coming up with a solution fit for the University.

“We need to show them that we’re the people who are going to be affected by this, and we’re not OK with it,” Sherry said.

“This is big,” Eva Panjwani said. “People are really upset and this is a sign that the energy is there. People are getting involved.”

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