Stand up for affordable college tuition



Before I begin, I offer a few disclaimers: I am aware that I have never had to balance a budget in the midst of a financial crisis, whether it be for an office or a large public institution.

I am aware that as a 21-year-old woman, my outlook on how to impact or be actively involved in a university is limited to the perspective of a student.

Lastly, I am aware that as I pursue my education and new experiences, I do not have every viewpoint to consider.

Now, let me get to the point of this piece. UK Students: You should be upset. And not, “I’m going to write a scathing Facebook status update” upset, but “I’m going to sit in the middle of the Main Building’s lobby in protest for 10 days” upset.

Those of you who are lucky enough to be graduating (lucky, of course, being dependent on how much debt you have graduating with you) will not have to experience the joy of a 6 percent hike.

Those of us still pursuing a higher education? Welcome to the re-affirmation of policies.

In an email sent out Tuesday, outgoing university President Lee Todd Jr. announced that the increase was due to a “$3.1 million reduction in state support, $21 million in increases in fixed costs and other operating expenses (including scholarships, implementing general education reform and utilities).”

Overall, he went on to state “with all of these expenses and reduced income, the hole we face for 2011-12 approaches $35 million.”

I do not see this as a “rock and a hard place” situation, but as the perfect opportunity to make change. We can no longer sit by and accept that because we are in difficult times, we are expected to accept difficult circumstances.

As students we are encouraged to debate, question and develop a thorough understanding of how our education is to be formed, yet we refuse to do so in other matters.

The tuition increase is a $259 increase per semester for lower-division resident undergraduate students and will generate $14.8 million, but in times when our basketball coach receives a $31,650,000.00, 8-year contract, something is amiss.

Students everywhere are speaking up and demanding that making the choice of pursuing higher education should not be met with the punishment of lifelong debt, and we should be doing the same.

There is a budget forum Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Center Theater of the Student Center.

Go. Not because you should; not because some opinionated person in a paper said so, but because your education, and the change you can bring to this state because of it, is the thing in most need of protection in a time when athletics, technology and self-involvement reign supreme.

I hope that I will get heated responses to this article. Agree, disagree — it doesn’t matter. As long as you show yourself and the university that you are taking the education you worked hard for and using it for something worthwhile, I can handle a few critiques, and I’m sure the administration can as well. An increase of 6 percent is small in numbers, but huge in significance.

Fellow students, you have a voice and an opportunity to use it. Please allow yourselves to see that for the incredible gift it is.