Last week the University’s Board of Regents’ Finance and Operations Committee presented information regarding the large debt most college students graduate with. It is time to look at the financial burden the realignment plan places upon University students.
Tuition costs already leave undergrads with more debt than they can handle. Tuition increases cannot possibly cover the cost of constructing new buildings to house realigned departments, nor are they going to pay for the new employees and technology that will fill these buildings. Where is the money going to come from? Not the state. Why should state residents pay more money to fund the University if it isn’t going to be available to their children?
The strategic positioning task forces strategically avoided most students and members of the University committee in its decisions regarding the realignment plan. These are also groups of people who likely will have to pay for the implementation of these decisions and will have little or no say in doing so. Students probably will foot the bill through further tuition increases. Indeed, there is a difference in whether students benefit or the University benefits. How disingenuous it is to aim the University in the direction of elitism while expecting students to fit the bill to shut the door on students just like them.
We get nothing from our leaders, University President Bob Bruininks included, emphasizing the problem that student debt and high tuition represents to Minnesota and the well-being of the University. Instead, we are fed the same old line that strategic positioning will benefit the University. Students will be forced to eat much of the costs and see few of the gains.
We are told repeatedly that high tuition is a “fact of life.” When students are scraping by while tennis courts at the president’s mansion are being renovated for thousands of dollars, “facts of life” aren’t quite believable anymore. Last week, Regent Frank Berman addressed some of these concerns on behalf of students. Who else is willing to stand up?