Letters to the EditorOpinion

Letter: HB 4061 amendments disruptive to an essential process

There is something seriously wrong in our state’s higher-education system. There’s not enough funding, and there’s not enough accountability. We, as students, bear the most severe burden of any group involved with this problem. It’s our money, our education and our future on the chopping block as Salem looks to cut budgets further each year.

We need to find solutions.

When HB 4061 was first introduced in the state legislature, Oregon had a chance to start solving the problem. HB 4061 was going to set up a task force to inquire into problems in our state university system, and do the research and analysis necessary to find a meaningful solution to the problems currently facing us.

But this essential process has been corrupted. Special interests@@As in SHEEN? A STUDENT political action [email protected]@ have intervened and disrupted our progress toward a more accessible, affordable and accountable university system. Amendments were made to HB 4061 that undermined its core intent — to find a real solution to our problem — and replaced it with a half-baked quick fix. Now HB 4061 includes language that will destabilize and deregulate our university system by creating institutional boards with no clear plan to incorporate the necessary checks and balances.

If you look nationwide, it becomes apparent that institutional board models pose many threats to students. In Texas, when a system was set up with no way for the state to check tuition hikes by the schools, students at the University of Houston saw tuition skyrocket by 67 percent in the first four years of the institutional board model. In Florida, the state and the universities wasted time and money for years on lawsuits over who had what authority after an institutional board model was put in place. HB 4061, as it stands now, could prompt an overhaul in Oregon’s education system that causes the same problems here as were experienced in Texas and Florida. This bill is the wrong way to go about higher-education reform.@@http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/UH-regents-approve-tuition-hike-1714976.php, http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2011articles/June2011/060311BORTuition.php, http://chronicle.com/article/Florida-Lawmakers-Agree-to/64825/@@

When the problem is already a lack of accountability and a lack of investment in our schools, the solution is not to further break our University away from accountability and investment. We need the legislature to find real solutions for students, not quick fixes prompted by private interests.

Chris Thompson
University student

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