Many students here at Appalachian State University, like countless other university students across the nation, are relying on student loans to pay for tuition and fees, though to various extents.
But it seems that the Board of Trustees is either ignorant of or apathetic to this fact. They are meeting with the Student Government Association to discuss an increase in fees, something that has become somewhat of a yearly tradition.
Their choice of a meeting date? Dec. 12, the last day of exam week, when many students will have already gone home or will be taking their last final exams.
It is unknown whether the board intentionally scheduled the meeting to fall on an exam day. Regardless, it certainly symbolizes a disregard for the general student body, since most students will be unable to attend the meeting.
Perhaps some of the blame falls on students, given that there has traditionally been a lack of questioning over the issue of tuition and fee increases. A few gripes, perhaps, or a question of what exactly the fees are covering, but nothing more.
As Zachary Kopkin, a senior anthropology major points out, the main question that needs to be asked is whether or not these increases are actually necessary. He said his main question is, “If the university is growing and bringing in more students, why are fees still rising?” Where exactly is our money going?
The predatory nature of yearly hikes in tuition and fees brings into question the real role of students in the university system. Are we really here to learn? Or are we just funding the system?
Since the General Assembly has cut funding to public universities, the burden has fallen more and more to students. That burden will continue to increase unless students start questioning and protesting against it.
Students have a voice in these matters. Kopkin alluded to the success students had in reclaiming the on-campus early voting site. When our on-campus voting site was taken away, people protested. It was re-instated.
If students can make a change about that, they can change the outcome of other decisions that affect them. The matter of tuition and fees is a small part of a bigger battle for faculty and student control over the university.
When the on-campus voting site was removed, people knew about it. People talked about it. The worst thing about the Board of Trustees meeting being on an exam day is that most people don’t know. In order to make a difference, we must first identify the issue. But the meeting, despite being technically open to students, is not listed online or anywhere else where students could reasonably find it.
Furthermore, although SGA held a meeting with students last week about the tuition increases, it was not well advertised and thus had a low turnout. Students should not have to go out of their way in order for their voices to be heard on such a crucial issue. Unfortunately, that is currently the case at Appalachian.
Finding out information about this issue should not be hard, but it is. Currently, it is unnecessarily difficult to find a copy of the university’s budget, and nowhere is there an answer to the question of whether or not these increases in tuition and fees are necessary.
Students need to be informed about these issues in order to participate in the discussion, but the necessary information is not being made readily available. The university needs higher levels of transparency about such issues. Students’ voices need to be heard and ought to be listened to.
Malcolm, a junior history major from Walkertown, is an opinion writer.