The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 20th

Student Body President Cooper supports 10 percent tuition plan proposed by system president

Despite ongoing opposition from some student protesters, Student Body President Mary Cooper said she will support the criteria for tuition increases laid out by UNC-system President Thomas Ross last week.

Cooper said Ross’ plan — which caps increases in tuition and fees at 10 percent for system schools — is a more secure approach than the plan put forward by UNC-CH administrators.

“Ross makes a great point that the economic situation two years ago was different to the one today,” she said. “Considering that, this two-year plan does provide a bit more stability than a five-year plan.”

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney’s five-year proposal, approved by the Board of Trustees in November, would see tuition and fees increase by 11.4 percent.

Although the specifics of Ross’ recommendations to the UNC-system Board of Governors won’t be known until the end of the month, Cooper said the philosophy behind the proposal resonates with student government’s view that tuition is not the only resource UNC has to counter budget cuts.

“One thing I felt very strongly about in President Ross’ presentation was his view that tuition cannot be seen as the only solution,” she said. “He is the only person to speak to how the University has other sources of funding and how this is a time for everyone to step up.”

Carney said it is too early to predict the financial impact of the smaller tuition hike proposed by Ross on UNC-CH.

Sophomore Sean Langberg, a member of Students for a Democratic Society, said it might be premature for students to pin their hopes on Ross’ plan.

“It is not yet an actual proposal — it is just an idea for framing the debate going forward,” Langberg said.

He said even if Ross’ tuition increase parameters were formally proposed to the Board of Governors, it could not be seen as a victory for student protestors.

“For all students opposed to tuition increases, Ross’ plan will be a slight improvement on Bruce Carney’s proposal,” he said. “But many will still be dissatisfied as it is still over the 6.5 percent cap.”

Cooper said student government worked with the Campus Y and the Education Justice Alliance, a coalition of student groups protesting tuition hikes, when discussing the tuition debate.

The Campus Y will meet tonight to discuss its stance on the tuition debate — though it has not declared a position so far — to work out how to move forward.

“The Campus Y is moving toward making the tuition issue a campus-wide campaign,” said Ben Elkind, executive board member of the Campus Y. “If this is finalized, we will be mobilizing members and leveraging Campus Y funding in an effort to fight this tuition battle.”

Members of the organization will vote at the meeting to determine their next step.

Caitlin Williams, a member of the coalition, said she is hopeful Ross’ plan indicates that the Board of Governors will be receptive to new ideas.

The coalition failed to reach consensus on a tuition proposal of its own, Williams said.

But Williams and fellow coalition member Spencer Kuzmier separately crafted and submitted their own proposal to the board, she said.

“Our proposal is structured similarly to Mary Cooper’s plan, but pulls money from the endowment and alumni donations to cover a bit more of the budget shortfall, while offering less impact to students,” Kuzmier said.

The coalition has developed a tool that is now available online, allowing students to calculate how much they would pay under each tuition proposal, including a calculation of the debt each student will owe.

Coalition members said they hope the tool motivates students to protest the Board of Governors meeting on Feb. 10.

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