This piece reflects the views of the ASUO Executive Branch, 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]
We are appreciative of Rep. Rob Nosse for continuing to champion the needs of students through this bill, HB 3381, which would freeze tuition this biennium.
Tuition increases are not an acceptable solution to the financial well-being of our institutions. Nor are cuts to our valued faculty and staff or student success programs. Revenue and state funding are the only acceptable solutions to the higher education funding crisis. Right now, the University of Oregon is looking at tuition increases as one of the ways out of the huge budget hole we are facing. This is because of the willingness of the legislature to take tuition increases as a given, forcing students to be a back-up revenue source for the state. Our tuition gets raised every year. We’re hungry, we’re in debt and we’re dropping out in alarming numbers. Meanwhile, our faculty and staff are largely overworked and underpaid. Enough is enough.
The overwhelming sentiment we hear in Salem is that legislators do not trust administrators at our universities to be financially responsible with state funds allocated. We look forward to working with universities and legislators to understand where money is going in our institution and why it is crucial that the state fixes its broken revenue system and fully fund higher education.
But the biggest problem is not the behavior of our administrators, it is the behavior of our legislature. The constant divestment from higher education has essentially privatized it. The bulk of funding for our institutions is now from students’ pockets rather than the state. This is essentially an austerity measure. There has to be a way to keep college affordable for students without cutting unionized workers who are also vulnerable to the university complex and divestment of the state. We cannot afford to continue this trend.
We hope that this bill will spark conversations about what it would look like for Oregon to truly fund its higher education system, rather than relying once again on tuition hikes or cuts to our valued faculty and staff. We also hope it will spark discussions about how institutions such as UO can remain accountable to us, the students, and to the faculty and staff who make this a place where we can come to learn.