Contributing writer: Kim Szarmach
“We, the Student Body, support a freeze on tuition for the next university budget cycle, in order to center the accessibility of an education at American University for the entire community. An end to tuition hikes is a move towards a University held accountable by the students, and a culture of reducing debt, not increasing it.”
For those who don’t know, the above referendum (Question 3 on the Student Government election ballot) is calling for a tuition freeze. It’s a symbolic fight “towards a University held accountable by the students and a culture of reducing debt, not increasing it.”
A recent article, “3 Hidden Ways a Tuition Freeze Hurts Students,” by Logan Billman, does a great job in pointing out all the problems with the way our university operates, but it also accepts these problems as inevitable.
We have the power as students to change a situation when our voices are heard. Billman made excellent points about administrative pay reform and a flawed system that needs to be changed, but missed one thing—this is exactly what the tuition freeze movement is addressing.
There’s been concern over the tuition freeze adversely affecting problems such as:
- the counseling center which many have deemed inadequate
- the rights of maintenance and Aramark workers
- more comprehensive sexual assault resources on campus
As well as countless other issues plaguing the university.
These need funding, approved by the Board of Trustees. There’s been speculation, based on AU’s financial history, that a tuition freeze will cause budget cuts across the board, from administration to the counseling center. But that is exactly what the demand for a tuition freeze is calling for: a change in AU’s history of raising tuition that conversely manages to fail students and workers over and over.
In the last budget cycle, tuition increased—presumably to allocate enough funds to solve these problems—yet still little progress has been made. We should not operate under the assumption that increased tuition will solve these problems, especially because it’s failed to do so in the past. When the cost of tuition rises year after year and consistently fails to change our university for the better, perhaps an alternative solution is the answer.
This call for a tuition freeze sends a clear message to the Board of Trustees that we are not satisfied with rising costs when it seems that our money is not being put to good use. The Board of Trustees should act in the interest of the students, allocating money as necessary.
A tuition freeze will force the university to rethink their budget instead of continuing to raise costs to fund overpaid administration and neglect necessary services.
If the university wants to cut student services, we will fight for them. Because we do have the power, and our voices can and will be heard.
It will not stop at this tuition freeze. This is not the end goal, in which we kick up our feet and watch what we’ve done play out. Administrative pay reform is the next step, not the alternative to a tuition freeze. Together, these two initiatives can fight against the corporatization of higher education and the exploitation of our tuition dollars. United, the student body will get what it wants.
Therefore, the argument that a tuition freeze will distract from solving these issues is confused, unconvincing, and misleading. So what’s the alternative? Stand idly by and let it happen while friends drop out left and right because they can’t pay due to financial aid cuts? It’s easy to write an op-ed from the comfort of your own room about why a tuition freeze sucks, then do nothing to solve the actual problem.
Student debt is one of the biggest issues students are rallying behind right now. The necessity of rising tuition is being questioned, showing solidarity against an oppressive system. We are fed up with the status quo, and need to make this clear to both AU and universities across the nation. The cry of students who are the lifeblood as well as a major source of income for AU is a loud one, and I believe the administration will hear it.
Vote YesVote YES to a Tuition Freeze here: http://bit.ly/VoteYes4TuitionFreezeMusic: Studio (Vices & Yung Wall Street Remix)
Posted by Students For a Tuition Freeze on Tuesday, March 22, 2016