As the time to set in-state tuition levels for the next two years approaches, candidates for student body president have found themselves aligned as they all attempt to involve and inform students about the issue.
In-state tuition will be set after legislators finalize N.C.’s budget — which will be completed this spring and is likely to perpetuate further hikes.
Candidate Kevin Claybren said the position of student body president is an opportunity to get involved with administrators and students.
“We need to let the students know what’s going on — some students don’t even know,” he said. “We need to engage students and keep telling them and educating them about what tuition increases look like.”
Hetali Lodaya, another candidate, said some tuition increases are a reality, but it’s important to be proactive in making sure the University is streamlined in its spending patterns.
“We need to be exploring all the options,” Lodaya said. “It’s time to find other ways to overcome the shortfalls in revenue at Carolina.”
Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said UNC will not see a significant tuition jump again soon, but some hikes are inevitable.
“I don’t think tuition increases are going to be zero again until the state learns what it really takes to run a university,” Carney said.
He said one of the reasons tuition has continued to rise is the growing demand for need-based financial aid, which the University has pledged to cover in full for students.
Carney said the number of students qualifying for aid jumped in 2008 from 34 percent to 42 percent and has remained relatively constant.
Candidate Christy Lambden said it is important not to think of tuition in an isolated scenario.
“We need to change the course of the debate,” he said. “Not just considering tuition, but also considering the whole package.
“We can have success trying to keep fees low — trying to keep the cost of books low, trying to bring down housing costs, trying to tackle all of these other areas that add a lot onto the costs of coming to Carolina.”
Candidate Will Lindsey said he approaches the issue with a policy mindset, stressing the importance of lobbying the state legislature during the budgeting process.
“We need students to be educated about the issues, but I think it’s much more important that we have students really invested in the tuition debate to be talking to state legislators and administrators,” he said.
Candidate Rob Jones said it’s important to engage students by not only giving them information, but also by uniting them with a common goal.
“Trying to find easy access to information that people are going to respond to — that’s how you create a change,” he said. “It’s a process, and we’re going to attack it together.”
Student Body President Will Leimenstoll said above all, the University needs to be funded, regardless of the next student body president’s stance on tuition hikes.
“But that doesn’t mean back down on tuition increases,” he said. “That just means if you’re going to be against tuition increases, there’s going to be a price to pay.”
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