Students deserve greater say at their U

Tuition will continue to rise until students vote on members of Board of Regents.

Robert Katz

The cost of health care in this country has gone up 85 percent during the last 10 years, stressing the need for health care reform. The cost of tuition at the University of Minnesota has increased 160 percent over the last 10 years, and thereâÄôs no redress in sight. These steep increases are the result of the dynamics of the UniversityâÄôs institutional decision-making structure, which guarantees that student interests are given short shrift. A Minnesota Daily poll in 2008 found that only one-third of students believe the University is spending money on things they find important. One administrator is quoted as saying that the criticism stems from studentsâÄô lack of knowledge regarding school finances. It is convenient to characterize the response as ignorance, but the student voice is often ignored, and students have no say in administrative promotions or pay increases Influence comes from long-term, regular personal contact, which cycling students canâÄôt maintain. Fortunately, all major decisions must be approved by the Board of Regents. Unfortunately, this check has become irrelevant. A 2007 Minnesota Daily article found that between 1994 and 2006 the Regents approved each of the 859 measures they heard (98 percent of the time unanimously). The result is that the institutional structure has become a machine for generating ever higher tuition. This present structure is not graven in stone. Take the 13th century University of Bologna. Its constitution had two properties our University lacks: by voting, students could indicate policy preferences; by selecting an executive officer, student interest carried weight. Tuition makes up about 25 percent of University revenues, another 10 percent comes from Auxiliary Services like parking, food services, and dorms, which mainly come from studentsâÄô pockets. It is only reasonable that one third of the Regents be directly elected by students. The next time administration intones its litany about being forced to raise tuition, we can respond with our own rallying cry: âÄúBologna!âÄù Robert Katz University staff