Tuition is too high. You know it, I know it, we all know it. I have seen friends who should have gone to college plunge directly into the desolate job market instead because they lacked the means to afford tuition.
I have seen friends come to the University and drop out, barely getting by before learning that next year’s tuition would be creeping ever higher. The magnitude of the debt many of us have accrued to finance our education is so massive that it is hard to believe that it is real sometimes and leaves many of us wondering if it is even worth it.
So what do we do?
Well, while sitting idly by and watching as the state disinvests in our future and the University turns increasingly to milking students for every last dollar we can borrow, increased funding for campus policing and administrative salaries were allowed while no efforts were made at all to prioritize affordability by restraining our budget growth. As this has happened, education has continued to inch closer to becoming more of a privilege than a right.
There are some who want to commit to this course entirely. They want to allow tuition overgrowth and to cut the student voice out of the tuition-setting process altogether. They hope to break our University away from state funding and regulation and set up unaccountable institutional boards that would finance our University on risky investments and on the backs of students, operating like private universities and aiming for elite status while forsaking our mission to serve Oregonians in need.@@[email protected]@
Public universities across the country are no stranger to this familiar model, despite its packaging as “bold” and “new.” It was a model adopted by Texas in 2003. What happened? Tuition across the state increased by 58 percent in just four years.@@[email protected]@ At the University of Houston alone, tuition increased by 63 percent in that short time span.
Is this travesty what we want for Oregon? I know that I could not afford that kind of runaway tuition hike, and I know that most of my peers could not either.
It must be we, the students, who decide how we deal with insufficient state funding.@@and parents. and [email protected]@ Do we want to reclaim our right to an affordable,@@free perhaps, [email protected]@ excellent education, or do we want to lock ourselves irreversibly into the downward spiral?
Do we want to act by exercising our democratic power over decision-makers in Salem to reinvest in our future, or do we want to double down and give up on public aid altogether?
Do we want control over our tuition, through a regulatory tuition-setting body that depends on the inclusion and support of students, or do we want to be coerced into paying outrageous amounts by an unaccountable institutional board that puts internal loyalties above the interests of students?
When your house is starting to fall apart, you need to break out the hammer and nails. You do not need to burn the house down.
As taxpayers in a democratic society, we have a right to an affordable, excellent education. Some want to strip that right from us.
Are we going to let them?