Tuition Increase Meets Opposition
Joo-Ah Lee, Feature Editor
Students opened their mailboxes last week to find a letter from the administration that stated the cost of tuition would increase by 5.9% for the 2012-2013 school year. The letter stated that compared to other universities in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, EMU has the lowest tuition cost.
What it did not state, however, was exactly where the extra money would be going. Instead, it commented that this would keep EMU’s tradition going, and then listed few things the increase could potentially affect. The Vice President of Finance, Daryl Bert, chose not to comment.
“I find this a bit outrageous,” said Yana Dronova, Senior. “If our tuition went towards paying professors, I would not be so opposed, but it seems like our money is going or relatively unimportant beneficiaries such as athletics, hiring more ‘administrative positions’ that fail to add to the academic enrichment of students, and other obscure areas that the administration refuses to disclose.”
Michele Hensley, the Director of Financial Assistance, has worked in this department for approximately 19 years. “[Insofar] as my experience goes it is not unusual for colleges and universities to increase tuition slightly each year… I don’t think the amount of students receiving financial assistance will increase any more or less because of the tuition increase.”
And yet some students are dropping out of EMU due to this increase; amongst them is First-Year Alex Gore. “I was told by professors that I’m the type of the student they want here on campus,” said Gore. “It is frustrating to see that the students they want here can’t be here because of monetary issues. I even applied for [a] housing exception. I got it, but the cost was still too much for me to pay.”
Nor is it only Gore who is suffering. His roommate was struggling to get the housing exception to help lessen the cost. Meanwhile, other students can be found on campus with similar stories of financial struggle, if they have not already chosen to drop out of EMU.
To show his frustration, Gore wrote an email to the president, detailing his story as well as two major complaints: “There was no student input [in determining the increase] and it seems wrong that tuition should increase to students who are already committed to this school.”
Loren Swartzendruber, President, replied with an email that said that he wished to respond but did not have the time to do so. “That was one week ago,” Gore said.
“Students currently here are scrambling to find money for next semester,” Dronova added. “FAFSA does not help all students, not because parents have the level of financial support needed but because of the bureaucracy in government. EMU is not to blame for that, obviously, but EMU could be so much more understanding.”
Dronova expressed extreme distaste towards the increase, particularly because it came without a sufficient explanation. “EMU should provide a full, comprehensive report of expenditures to students. It is our money,” she stated.
“I just don’t want this happening to more people,” Gore said.
Letter to the Editor: Clarifications on Tuition Increase Meets Opposition
I wish to clear up a few aspects of my interview in regards to the tuition hikes for next year.
First, the way the article was worded, it made it sound like President Swartzendruber was ignoring my email. That was not the case. He replied to me today and because he has been very busy the last few days, he had not had time to write his thoughts in length. He explained this in his first email to me and I tried to explain that in my interview.
After my interview, I asked the reporter to send me a copy before it was published in order to make sure my thoughts were accurately represented. I was told that I would receive a copy but never did.
Second, there are many reasons for the tuition increase. I can’t even begin to understand the complexity that goes into a 30 million dollar business with so many people involved. There are people who care about the institution that are looking at and wrestling with the figures and trying to make them work better for everyone.
I do not wish to attack President Swartzendruber or the school. But, I cannot be complacent and apathetic to a broken system. I think EMU does a lot of things well that a lot of other schools do not. However, I think EMU can be so much more. I want to see what EMU could be if the ideals of peacebuilding and sustainability really took hold of the campus. What if EMU had a different business model? What if we didn’t run like other schools? What if we didn’t even look like other schools because we ran so differently?
If I could study at any school in the country, it would be this one. I love the people here and I love my professors. But, I don’t have the money to be here so I won’t study here.
I care deeply about this place and the people here and I want to see it improve.