The Board of Trustees passed a 4.7 percent tuition increase for in-state students and 4.5 percent increase for out-of-state students. The hike will cover the $17.5 million increase in costs for the fiscal year 2016, as the University of Oregon’s budget relies heavily on students’ tuition.
Student Amber Potratz said the tuition increases will force her to drop out before her last year at UO. She is the first in her family to attend college.
“I can no longer pay for my rent and my credit card bills,” Potratz said.
Potratz was not the only one. The board spent over an hour listening to concerns from multiple students and faculty.
Another student, Alicia Severson, said she is fortunate enough to have her parents support her financially throughout college. However, with the hike in tuition this year, she said she will probably be the only child out of three in the family to be able to attend college.
UO student Adrion Trujillo said he came to the UO as a queer and homeless student. He gave a testimony accusing the administration of going against its mission, as he almost choked into tears.
“How is this a liberal school when black students feel alienated at the school … when we invest in fossil fuel that destroys not only our futures but your future as well. What makes this a progressive school when school officials tell a crowd of survivors to not drink as much alcohol, then they wouldn’t get raped?” Trujillo said. “Now you want to raise tuition and price out students like me who almost couldn’t afford this in the first place.”
Students rallied against the proposal back in February to no avail. In addition to almost 80 students at the meeting, over 500 students have signed a petition urging the board not to raise tuition, UO student Mariana Paredones said. UO student Vickie Gimm shared several stories from 30 pages worth of testimonies.
Trustee Kurt Willcox proposed increases of 3.7 percent and 3.57 percent at the meeting, cutting $2.8 million out of Schill’s proposal. Trustee Ann Curry spoke in support of the proposal, saying it is “immoral” and “fundamentally unethical” for UO to put financial burdens on students’ back.
The board voted it down by a count of 3-11 and passed the initial proposal. Curry, Willcox and student trustee William Paustian voted in opposition of Schill’s proposal.
ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson led the walkout right after the vote. Earlier, he gave a public comment saying the increases will hurt the relationship between administration and the student body as well as the state.
“You have proved that you are not willing to work with students,” he said. “We’re not willing to work with you if you’re not willing to work with us.”
“Schill is a racist,” some protesters shouted as they left the building.
On top of tuition, mandatory fees are going up by 3.83 percent, health center fees will increase by 7.9 percent and the incidental fee will rise 4.5 percent.
The board continued the meeting by passing authorization for bond issuance, which was discussed on March 3. The board also passed Presidential Goals and Evaluation unanimously.
Schill went over his excellence plan to hire 80-100 new tenure-faculty and build more research spaces. He also wants to expand the Robert D. Clark Honors College and programs in Portland. Schill mentioned nothing about the upcoming live-on requirement but said many residence halls need renovations for safety and accessibility reasons.
VP and Provost Scott Coltrane took the lead in updating the board with an IT Plan. As of now, the UO will put $2.75 million towards rebuilding and maintaining the IT system. VP and Chief of Staff to the Provost Melanie Muenzer said the committee needs $10 million to run efficiently in the future.