Tuition freeze is not good enough

This week, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents and President Eric Kaler will be meeting to discuss the budget of the University and plans going forward for next year. However, the Board of Regents will not be accomplishing one of their main goals, which can be found in the original charter of the University.

Section 12 reads as follows: “The admission fee to the University and the charges for tuition in the several Departments thereof, shall be regulated and prescribed by the Board of Regents; and as soon as in their opinion, the income of the University fund will permit, tuition in all of the Departments shall be without charge to all students in the same, who are residents of the Territory.” 

I interpret this as meaning that the regents, who represent students across the state, should make it their top priority to make tuition free for all in-state students. The Board of Regents and Kaler have failed every student in Minnesota by putting University profits and administrative salaries over the interests of students.

Unfortunately, this dreadful trend is not unique to Minnesota. Public schools across the country have been raising tuition, cutting funding to the arts and humanities and paying administrators CEO-like salaries in a futile quest to increase revenues and get a better “ranking.”

University rankings do not matter if the average student cannot attend the university because of cost barriers. Universities are supposed to be a place of learning where a diverse group of students can respect and grow with one another in a safe environment. This is not possible when every student has to worry about securing loans for next semester, while looking at Target and Coca-Cola advertisements in every University building.

I urge the Board of Regents to do their job Thursday and Friday and create a plan to lower tuition for all students — freezing it is not good enough. The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota will have a $1 billion surplus going into next year, which could be spent on lowering tuition. That is what the founders of this University wanted.

The Board of Regents at the University of California did not do their job this year when they proposed a massive tuition increase. Fortunately, students were not silent about these massive hikes to tuition — they got active and organized and took over a university building in solidarity.

If tuition goes up, or efforts are not made to lower tuition, students at the University should fight back in solidarity with one another. Change could be achieved if students decide to take collective action against the trend of neo-liberalization on campus.