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Take a stand on tuition: Students must make a point of understanding the tuition debate

With today’s Board of Governors meeting, the long-running tuition debate will enter its final stages, at least for this year. What students and board members alike must keep in mind at this juncture, however, is that this isn’t really a debate, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.

The two sides in this argument aren’t actually opposed, since their aim is, at bottom, the same: to come up with a plan that will best serve the people and the University of North Carolina.

And if the interests of the BOG and those of UNC’s students are the same, the disconnect between their opinions can only be blamed on a failure to communicate — or a failure to understand.

Now more than ever, students need to make it their business to be informed and vocal about tuition. We simply can’t afford to do otherwise.

For its part, the BOG must place special emphasis on understanding the human impacts of tuition increases. And no one can relay these concerns better than the students themselves.

As the students’ elected executive, UNC Student Body President Mary Cooper is responsible for conveying the collective opinion of some 18,000 undergraduates.

It’s a tall order, to be sure, but it’s even harder if students don’t care. The burden now is on the students to inform themselves, to think critically and to try to understand the nuances of this intricate issue.

On her end, Cooper and her administration must continue to provide avenues for student voices. Efforts like the forums she led this fall should continue through the crucial upcoming weeks.

Since the debate has moved past Chapel Hill to the entire UNC system, a proportionally broad-based student response is necessary. Cooper has begun this process by inviting student leaders at all of the other UNC-system schools to help lobby the BOG in the coming weeks.

A drastic increase in tuition, even if it isn’t mandated this year, would do more than make a dent in students’ wallets. It would change the face of this university, limiting its accessibility and depriving it of its identity — the University of the People.

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