Tuition a student burden

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Murray State News.

As goes the nation, so goes Murray? For years, Murray State University has prided itself in making an affordable education a possibility for the young men and women of this state and this country. Comparatively speaking, Murray has some of the lowest tuition rates in the state and in the surrounding area, especially compared to schools outside of Kentucky.

This does not mean, however, that we should treat an increase in tuition fees as anything less than tragic, because increased charges will inevitably price some students out of a decent education.

Times are tough, budgets are tight, but we don’t think that means we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If we stopped enforcing the law every time budgets got tight for the police department what would be the end result? Education is no less vital to a vibrant and democratic society as is policing or firefighting or garbage collection. Increased tuition fees are something we have grown accustomed at our University for better or for worse. We have adopted an attitude of resignation and complacency in perhaps the most vital determinant of one’s ability to attend a university in the 21st century United States – ability to pay.

Student resignation to the events unfolding around us will only allow for further cuts, for further tuition hikes in the future. If we do not organize and become active on our campus and in our community, we cannot stop or even slow the annual increase in tuition fees. In addition to getting more active in administrative affairs, we also encourage students to take the Student Government Association to task in representing the student body.

A minority of students may have voted in last week’s SGA elections, but the young men and women who serve as student representatives represent all of us and should speak on our behalf when dealing with the administration – especially on the tuition issue.

University Provost Bonnie Higginson said there are many reasons for tuition to go up. Some are more easily controlled than others.

“While employees pay part of our insurance, those costs rise every year and those are costs we can’t control,” Higginson said. “Utility costs rise each year, there are some costs that are totally out of our control. Some fixed costs that continually go up influence the factors of tuition increase.”

We cannot and should not allow a decent education at an affordable cost to be relegated to the history books. We have the power to stand up and do something about it, and it’s time that we used it.