Q&A with Judith Lechner on the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board
Judith Lechner is an international graduate student, GTF and former GTFF president. Now filling one of four student positions on the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board, Lechner helps the Board make decisions regarding tuition changes throughout the year. Here is what Lechner had to say about her role and experience on the Board:
What is the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board?
The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board discusses tuition and fees, but they are not the ones to set tuition. They just review parts of the budget and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees about how much they think tuition and fees should be increased or not increased.
When do you meet with the Board?
We meet bi-monthly. We started meeting in fall term, and we’ll be concluding the meetings this month because the recommendation has to be made during February. The Board of Trustees makes the final decision.
How many students are on the board?
Four students. Two students are appointed by the administration and two students are appointed by the ASUO president. Beatriz Gutierrez put herself on the board, and I actually asked her if I could be the second person on the board because I am one of the co-founders of the group of the League of the Educators and Students Slashing Tuition, LESST.
What is LESST?
We are a student group that works with graduate students and undergraduate students. We also have professors on our group and we’re advocating for free higher education. That is our goal, and we’ve been petitioning for a tuition freeze and we have been very successful in our goals so far.
What is your biggest priority as a graduate student member of the Board?
For me personally, the biggest concern is to keep tuition and fees as low as possible. I believe college education should be free, to have equity and equal access. I also believe it’s important to check on the university’s spending priorities. For example, where is most of the money going, could we save some money?
The second part, which is also really important, is to increase the state funding for higher education because it has been dramatically dropping within the last 20 years and only a small portion of the UO budget is still funded by the state, and that needs to change so students don’t have to lift the financial burden.
What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Board?
I am asking a lot of critical questions, I am trying to understand where the money is going, where we could be saving money. As an international student, I am concerned about the out-of-state tuition as well, which doesn’t affect me as a GTF but I can tell the out-of-state costs are three times as high. I am really worried that international students will have to carry a higher burden.
How would you recommend that students stay informed about tuition costs?
I think people should follow our Facebook group for LESST, and the blog UO Matters.
There will also be a public meeting in February. In this meeting, the recommendations and decisions made by the Board will be explained.
Follow Francesca Fontana on Twitter @francescamarief
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