Hike passes with little comment from students

By Gus Bode

The SIU Board of Trustees voted Thursday to increase 2005-2006 tuition by as much as 12.9 percent for some students.

The increase was passed with little criticism from the student body and with only one student speaking during the time allotted for public comments at the board’s meeting, which was held in the Student Center.

Board Chairman Glenn Poshard said he received two e-mails regarding tuition hikes. Chancellor Walter Wender said no students confronted him about the increases since he proposed them at the board’s September meeting.

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Ed Ford, the SIUC student representative to the board, voted against the increase. Nonetheless, his vote was not officially counted.

“SIU has historically been a place where those who, for whatever reason might not have been able to get an education some where else, have been encouraged,” Ford said. “My prime concern with cost issues is that as we increase cost, we are starting to cut people out of the equation.”

The increase will affect all students, with the exception of current first-semester freshman, who entered the University under guaranteed rates that are locked in for at least four consecutive years.

Undergraduate students enrolled at the University before this semester will pay a 7.9 percent – or $360 – increase over this year’s tuition rates. Graduates students will pay 12.5 percent more, and law students’ tuition will be 7.9 percent more.

Students who enroll for the first time in fall of 2005 will enter with a four-year, locked-in rate of $5,310, an increase of 7.9 percent over the current freshmen’s locked-in rate.

Amanda Higgins, a junior studying zoology from Centralia, was one of the few students who attended the board’s meeting. Higgins said she didn’t attend the meeting with the intention of addressing the board, but rather to see what others had to say about it.

“I’m already here. I’ve started my classes, and I’m not going to leave,” Higgins said. “It’s just going to be hard for me to pay my bills and pay for tuition. It is hard enough as it is.”

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Higgins said she wanted to attend SIUC when she was a freshman, but the University’s rising tuition costs forced her to spend two years at a community college.

“I got accepted, but couldn’t really afford it,” she said. “I really can’t afford it now, but I guess I’ll just put it on the credit card.”

Higgins had to leave the meeting early to attend class and never got to hear public comments. But even if she waited, Higgins wouldn’t have heard much.

Wan Kamal Wan Napi, the president of the International Student Council, was the only student to address the board. His tuition concerns were based solely on non-resident tuition rates, which he said are affecting international enrollment.

Non-resident students, which include international students, pay 2.5 percent more than students who are residents of the state of Illinois.

Poshard assured Wan Napi the board would take his account into consideration during future tuition talks.

Vice-Chairman of the board Harris Rowe, who voted for the increase, said he sympathized with the student population.

“Tuition at SIU is an incredible bargain,” he said. “Even so, I have never seen a tuition increase that I liked.”

Brenda Morse, the mother of an SIUC junior, said she regrets the increases, but said the money is well spent.

“I’ll whine and complain, but the bottom line is that my daughter gets a good education here,” said Morse, who works in New Student Programs. “So someway, somehow, dad and I will pay the bill.”

Board member A.D. VanMeter said the increases are unfortunate, but necessary.

“I wish we didn’t have any tuition, I really do,” VanMeter said. “I know how hard it is, but the administration has to weigh the pros and cons.”

Wendler said he does not expect the increase to affect student enrollment, adding that despite tuition hikes, freshmen enrollment is up from the previous year.

Poshard said the board has increased tuition as a last resort – one that has followed continuous state and federal funding cuts.

“If we do not increase tuition, there is no way to protect the quality of education provided to our students,” he said. “It is not something we would have ever chosen to do had we had other options.”

Higgins said she was disappointed in the student body’s apparent apathy.

“I just figured more people would have been interested, would have wanted to say something,” Higgins said. “But I guess they weren’t interested.”

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