Letters to the EditorOpinion

Guest Viewpoint: A letter from an Oregon alumni to the Board of Trustees

This piece reflects the views of the author, alumni Shahbaz Yusuf, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected]


To: UO Board of Trustees

Chuck Lillis

Ginevra Ralph

Connie Ballmer

Peter Bragdon

Rodolfo (Rudy) Chapa

Andrew Colas

Ann Curry

Allyn Ford

Susan N. Gary

Joseph Gonyea III

Ross Kari

Will Paustian

Michael Schill

Mary Wilcox

Kurt Willcox

I’m an alumnus of the University of Oregon. I graduated from the university in the late 80s. As a student, I worked through my four, almost five years at the UO to pay my way through college. At the time, the undergraduate tuition rates were approximately $750 per quarter for a full-time load and I was enrolled as an international student paying approximately $1200 per quarter for tuition. Even in those days, it was quite a burden to maintain my way through college. I met many friends who dropped out for reasons of cost. I am 54 today and a father of three children headed for college.

In the past 30 years, I have observed a seriously disturbing and irresponsible trend among the university funding stakeholders. It starts with the state officials, then the university trustees and UO executive administration. It’s the same trend Senator Sanders called out in his campaign with respect to access to college education.

The trend I refer to is the progressive defunding of public universities and the shift of the burden of higher and higher and higher tuition costs shifting to the undergraduate students.

I am appalled that today in this climate of ignorance, fear and a continued degradation of progressive values that you the trustees of the UO have approved yet another tuition increase. This increase just adds to the backs of hard working students from working-class and middle-class families and is the wrong decision.

These types of approvals continue to perpetuate the complete abdication of responsibility that the state and you, the trustees, have to hold fast to the values of the “public” education system and hold them in a direction that supports tax paying, working class and middle-class families and individuals.

I see a lot of big names on the list of trustees people who are likely very well-off, and for whom the idea of paying for a full-time student or two may seem like a minuscule fraction of their financial picture. But I urge you to think about it from the perspective of an average or even a median middle-class family that is faced with putting two children through a college education. Increases like this on their backs, versus being covered by the state, are flagrantly violating the reason public colleges were funded.

I urge heck, I require you guys to look at ways to close down irrelevant school programs and cut costs rather than pandering to outdated tenure systems, unneeded core requirements and outdated curriculums that have no place in today’s college programs.

As trustees, you need to embrace and promote a cradle-to-college education value system for public schools and ensure that states such as Oregon’s preserve and lower the cost of entry into higher education for the lowest economic tiers of our citizens. And, do that without increasing the debt burden on them!

But you guys are doing just the opposite! I say to hell with this. This is wrong and as a past progressive Oregon student, I morally oppose and denounce this direction you are taking.

I urge you to rescind this.

Thanks for your attention.

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