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Opinion

Student Senate members could influence tuition cost

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April 17, 2008

A few weeks ago, the Student Senate approved a motion that will increase the student contribution to the new health and human performance building on campus. The increase in the student fees for the building comes as a result of the increased cost projected for the building.

It’s not a surprise. Every year, a student’s personal contribution for his or her education increases at an alarming rate while the state’s funding for higher education fails to add up.

I’ve been around for a while and I’ve seen it happen firsthand. An individual student’s responsibility has grown by nearly double-digit increases during every budget cycle for the past six years while many students sit idly by.

Budgets are not a very interesting subject, but they are important for students, maybe even more important than voting for elected officials. Personally, my experience with budgets has been a mixed bag of disappointments and anger, basically nothing exhilarating, and more often aggravating.

Students are responsible for an ever-increasing portion of their tuition. Traditionally, this has meant the state would increase its contribution to financial aid in the form of a variety of grants. However, the recent trend has shifted to more loan based programs. This means students are forced to take out loans for the same education.

College, historically, especially UWRF, has been relatively affordable. But because of the shift to loan based programs, many students are graduating tens in thousands of debt. In May, I’ll be graduating with over $19,000 in debt and I consider myself lucky.

You may be asking yourself, “so what?” What difference does it make how much debt a student has or how much students are paying for a building on campus? It’s true, many students are blessed enough to not need loans and some won’t be around, like me, to pay the increased burden of buildings on this campus. It won’t matter that the state is pricing higher education out of the hands of many of the youth, especially first generation students and students from low income families, most of which have been the backbone of the institution. That’s fine; it probably won’t affect a lot of you.

If you’re one of the people who, for a lack of a better term, don’t care, then there is no need for you to read on.

Now that I have weeded out the people who are apathetic to their classmates, let me make my plea. The Student Senate is holding its elections soon. It may be too late to run this spring, but it is not too late to get involved. Student Senate is my baby—I’ve poured my blood and sweat into it.

It requires students who are committed to the student movement and student rights. It needs students who will make the drive to Madison to meet with legislators and plead for money so their fellow students won’t have to pay more money for buildings only to know it won’t happen. Senate needs students who will sit at tables and ask their apathetic classmates to sign postcards to send to the Board of Regents that ask for reasonable increase in tuition.

I’ll be honest, Student Senate is not glamorous; it doesn’t come with great privileges. If you are looking to get involved for the rewards, forget about it.

Student Senate isn’t for everyone. Hopefully the students who’ve filled out the paperwork to get involved are dedicated to the responsibility.

As students, you have a responsibility to vote for Student Senate elections. You are voting for the people who will have a huge impact on your life on campus.

Student Senate will determine everything from the cost of living on campus to the amount the Student Voice gets so they can pay people like me. (Well, you might like to see less of me.) Take the time and get to know your candidates, who will be leading the campus into the future, and vote. I know I push voting a lot, but you don’t even need to be registered this time.

Joe is a political science and international studies major. He will be graduating this May.

Joe Eggers is a fifth year senior from Appleton, Wis. He is a political science and international studies major. He has been involved in several activities on campus, including a stint as last year's Student Senate president.