AU takes student voices seriously. Finally.
After a long battle between Student Government, Coalition of AU Students (CAUS) and the Board of Trustees, we have seen positive outcomes. Our tuition increase for the next two years will be lower than ever in recorded history.
It seems that the unintentional game of “good cop, bad cop” with SG and CAUS won out. The University is doing what they wanted, or at least part of it.
In the fiscal years of 2014 and 2015, AU’s tuition will increase by 2.95 percent. For the past two fiscal years tuition has increased by 3.8 percent.
President Neil Kerwin stated that the student uproar over tuition hikes influenced the decision to lower the tuition rate increase. Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson told CAUS that Kerwin specifically asked each academic department to ask for the lowest amount of funds possible.
Without the protests from CAUS, demands from SG or the many letters and signatures from the AU community, this would not have happened.
Student input can impact the community. In fact, SG got everything they asked for in the budget. We now have a lower tuition increase, increased financial aid by 1 percent and a smaller portion of tuition going toward the long-term planning.
The reduced tuition rate increase is a battle won for students now, but it’s a battle lost for future AU students.
In a previous staff editorial, The Eagle highlighted the potential negative impacts of halting the rise of tuition prices. In the future, both the quality of AU’s academic programs and professors are at stake.
The budget for the next two years will reduce the tuition money going toward AU’s quasi-endowment and force the administration to rely more on philanthropy. All of the long-term projects come from this endowment.
There will also be less money allotted for the performance pool of professors. This money goes to hiring professors of merit and paying their salaries. With less money, students may see a decrease in the quality of professors.
Something needed to be sacrificed. The Board decided that long-term initiatives can be financed with philanthropy work. But, regarding the decrease in funding for AU professors, that money cannot be made up anywhere else. As AU students, we should make sure that the Board does not sacrifice the quality of our education as they decide where to decrease funding.
The Board was right to search for ways to prevent tuition increases. Most AU students understand the everyday burden that comes with going to an expensive university. Students collectively decided that we cannot continue to pay the tuition we do and sustain our education, so we took action and it happened.
The decisions made by the Board demonstrate how powerful student voices can be. Now that we have seen positive feedback from the Board, let’s make sure their decisions are responsible. This is just a start.