Opinion: Tuition hikes threaten students’ right to education

Austin Mann

Kevin Griffin

Austin MannThe News and Observer reported that over the winter break N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson received a 14.6 percent raise, a one-time bonus of $112,630 and a retirement plan. His pay has now been increased to an
annual salary of $495,000.

This comes at the same time news is delivered about tuition hikes and funding cuts.

Carolina Public Press reports that Appalachian’s tuition will increase by $230 on Dec. 17, as well as spike by $120 in general fees and $44 in indebtedness fees. In-state undergraduates will pay $3,772 per semester – up from $3,542 last year.

This is nothing new, as the Carolina Public Press also reports that similar tuition hikes are seen across North Carolina.

Tuition for UNC-Asheville’s in-state undergraduates would increase $190, nudging the cost from $3,476 to $3,666 for the 2013-14 academic year. Tuition at Western Carolina University would rise $272 for the year, from $3,397 to $3,669 for in-state undergraduates, according to the Carolina Public Press article.

“We do not like the notion of increasing tuition, but we have to be concerned about maintaining the quality of the educational experience we provide to our students,” Vice Provost for Resource Management Timothy Burwell said in an article in The Appalachian on Oct. 22.

While Burwell’s intentions are noble, who doesn’t want to preserve education? His statement is naïve and ignorant of the overall picture.

To balance the budget, cuts are made to those programs that are “unnecessary.” This includes tuition hikes and cuts to women, African-American and LGBTQ studies, as well as the arts. Not only does this affect our schools, it affects society at large as many social programs are cut.

This doesn’t fit well with the current legislature’s plans to cut taxes.

Who will be hit hardest by these austere cuts? Those who have a hard enough time without it; the poor and underprivileged will be forced to work multiple jobs or even quit school.

I hope that Woodson likes his raise, and I hope that Burwell is satisfied with his budget, because while they are no doubt in a very comfortable position, there are many students who are not so lucky.

We do not have to accept this fate. Budget cuts hit every single one of us, so we should all band together to stop it. Education is a right, not a privilege.

Mann, a freshman computer science major from Raleigh, is an opinion writer.