UO Board of Trustees approves $945 per year tuition hike for all undergraduate students

The University of Oregon Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by $945 per year for all undergraduate students at today’s board meeting. This amounts to a 10.6 percent increase for resident students and a 3 percent increase for non residents.

Along with the tuition increase, the board approved a $50 per term technology fee for all students. The technology fee will pay for “critical, recurring investments in technology to keep campus running,” according to board meeting materials.

The increases come as the university faces a projected $25 million increase in costs for the 2018 fiscal year, according to reports the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board presented to the trustees today. Many board members and people in the audience cited Oregon’s proportionally bad state funding for higher education. Oregon currently ranks No. 46 in the country for higher education state funding.

“I actually agree with the students,” President Schill assured the audience. “They shouldn’t have to pay a 10.6 percent increase. I’m hoping the state will see that.”

The board voted near-unanimously to approve the tuition increase. (Noah McGraw/Emerald)

The vote was near-unanimous. Kurt Willcox, the board member representing non-faculty staff at the university, cast the sole “no” vote. Willcox pointed toward the disproportionate increase for resident students as his primary motivating factor.

“I do think we have a very clear obligation to provide Oregon students with access to an affordable education,” Willcox said. “And I think we can do better for our in-state students than what this proposal provides.”

Other board members felt that the increase was a hard decision, but ultimately necessary. The most divided member seemed to be Ann Curry, who asked more questions than all other board members combined. Curry pointed to the tuition increase, the technology fee and next year’s live-on requirement for freshmen as maybe too much at one time.

“Add all these up together, it’s just a lot, just all happening at once,” she told the board. Ultimately she decided to vote yes, saying she couldn’t in good conscience let the university’s debts go into the red.

As the meeting adjourned, Curry turned to Willcox, who was sitting next to her, and said, “That was really hard.”

Around 50 students, staff and faculty rallied outside the Ford Alumni Center before the meeting. The group chanted “hey hey, ho ho, tuition hikes have got to go!” and, “Hey Schill, we’re no fools. We won’t let you ruin our schools!”

Students focused protests on the minimal funding UO receives from the state. Oregon ranks 46th out of all states in state funding for higher education. (Noah McGraw/Emerald)

Speakers urged different unions to unite together to keep administration accountable and costs low. Many unions will enter contract negotiations with administration soon.

Before the vote, the board heard comments from members of the audience. Everyone who spoke about the tuition increase was a UO student.

“Within Eugene, the University of Oregon does not represent hope. It does not ability to achieve greatness,” said UO student Charlie Landeros. “What it represents is the unattainable symbolism of capitalism that continues to oppress marginalized communities such as the poor.”

Landeros is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and receives benefits from the GI Bill. “I have to wonder if the University of Oregon is here for the poor, is here for people of color,” he said. “If it is, then why is the only reason I can be here because I had to fight through two wars? … I had to see my friends die in the battlefield for me to be here. And I wonder if that is going to continue to be the standard for poor people to attend the University of Oregon.”

The board didn’t vote on the tuition increase until 5:30 p.m., four hours into the meeting. Most of the protesters had left the room by then. There was a single shout of “shame!” from the audience when the resolution passed.

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Noah McGraw

Noah McGraw

Noah is the 2016-17 Senior News Editor at the Emerald. His earliest journalistic influences were Tom Wolfe, Eric Schlosser and Batman. He loves '70s comics, '80s action movies and '90s music.