The coming increases in tuition for students leaves the competency of higher education systems of this state in doubt. The students of this system are already stretched to their financial limits, so it is a wonder how they can afford to raise tuition once again.
Is there good reason for the increase? Yes. With rising energy prices and maintenance costs prices are inevitably going to go up. This is especially true for our University where many of the buildings are dated and not very energy efficient. This also doesn’t help when the University decides to keep the air-conditioning on throughout the entire summer in buildings only used for two weeks over a three month period. Maybe it’s time to tell some of those faculty who want to work over the summer to stay at home. If they really care about the plight of the students they will understand the needed sacrifice.
But even if the University tried to cut as many corners as possible, whether it’s by saving energy or stopping pay increases, the real problem will not be solved. The state will keep allowing these institutions to place another heavy burden on students every year and every year they will respond by sending a bus of students to lobby in Frankfort to grovel and beg and when the time comes the University will increase tuition. This has been the model for the five years I have been a student here and it needs to stop.
Many students may not see this as an important issue at the moment. But the increase in college loans and the decrease in federal support for students is going to have a long lasting effect on the education of young people in this country.
If we are going to recognize that a college education is an important part of our society’s growth and if we are going to advertise this University as an affordable, regional institution then we need to make a concentrated effort at stopping the state from taking this away. Their model is dated and needs to go. Lobbying and compromise is not working anymore. For every one step forward we are taking three steps back and it’s no longer acceptable. I propose a change.
We need an immediate summit of all public university presidents in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to convene on this systemic issue. A drastic battle plan needs to be drawn in the next year to bring a sudden halt to Kentucky’s war on higher education.
We need a second summit to bring together every public University’s student government to also plan a strategy on this issue for next year. With or without administrative support the students governing bodies need to see this as priority No. 1 starting in the fall of 2012.
All possible funds need to be used to organize and educate college students across the Commonwealth. And with that we need to make it issue number one in every classroom whether it’s freshman English or the senior capstone.
The only way students will stop the tuition increases is if they make a statewide collective effort to put pressure on their administrators and elected officials to stop this downward spiral.
And how exactly do we apply that pressure? We march, we sit-in, we petition and we make ourselves heard across every county in this state. We take hostage of every newspaper headline and when it’s all over we start again.
The effort spent on this will be a small price to pay when the next tuition increase rolls around. The road seems long and rough now, but that is how the men in Frankfort want us to see it,
The most important thing we can do is recognize our ability to be powerful if we act together. With students, administrators, staff and faculty linking arms across this state we can bring enough power to the table to make clear and effective change. It’s time we take our place at the table again.