The never-ending story: tuition hikes

Kernel Editorial Board

In what seems to be a never-ending story, tuition is once again up in the air for UK students.

Thanks to a state legislature that can no longer pass a budget on time — much less a budget favorable to education (which much be the reason why the changed the state slogan from “Where Education Pays”) — also in part less money overall due to the recession, the students, faculty and staff who make up the university, are set to potentially suffer once again.

With the state discussing tuition increases as high as 6 percent and Angie Martin, vice president of financial operations and treasurer, quoted in an April 22 Kernel article as saying that faculty and staff must endure third straight year with no raises, one has to wonder when something will give?

Sure, the circumstances are not ideal. The state is offering little to no help and the recession has strained the university’s bank accounts and endowments. But just because the going is tough doesn’t mean the most important people on this campus should take the brunt of the blow.

In an interview with the Kernel last semester, UK President Lee Todd considered one of his main goals to have at least a 1 percent raise for faculty and staff. Todd did note the challenge of such a raise, but he still seemed committed to the idea.

So why can’t the university make such a thing happen? Can the administration not pool together enough of a pay cut between themselves to reward the hard-working faculty and staff?

Maybe not. But the fact of the matter is, whether tuition for next year has been set or not, education went from paying in this state, to costing.

We often hear of the Top-20 Business Plan and how UK needs to be a leader in this state, even if the decisions are unpopular to some (i.e. the campus tobacco ban). Along those lines, UK should be the leader when it comes to reversing constantly rising tuition, unaffordable education and years without needed raises.

All the money poured into the campus tobacco ban (and the free drink flyers, what a waste), unneeded construction and more could easily block some of the financial burden being heaped down the ladder in bunches.

It’s not what has always been done and it may even go against the Top-20 Plan in the long-term.

But it would do wonders in the short-term, and if the problem continues to fester, there may never be hope for the long-term of the plan anyway.

In order to reach the lofty goals UK has set for itself, UK must invest in its people. Increased enrollment, retention, research and new buildings won’t happen if the people here now aren’t taken care of. The structure of the university will collapse if the foundation — its people— aren’t supported properly.

Another year without raises is unacceptable and another year of piling on with tuition is just as bad.

Fixing both options should be the university’s priority No. 1.