University News

URC may propose 5 percent tuition hike

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Evan Schwartz ’13, a student representative on the University Resources Committee, estimated a 5 percent tuition increase next year — higher than the typical 3.5 percent annual increases — at last night’s general body meeting of the Undergraduate Council of Students.  

“My gut feeling is that the committee is going to ask for a higher (increase) — say 5 percent tuition increase,” said Schwartz, who encouraged students to attend the committee’s meeting.

The URC — the body that recommends all University budget and tuition increases to the Corporation — will hold its annual public forum at noon today to invite student contribution to its budget discussions.

Ben Noble ’13, the second student representative on the URC and a former Herald staff writer, said increases in tuition could make it harder for middle class students to afford Brown.  

 While financial aid continues to cover the tuition increases for students receiving it, Noble said middle class students with family incomes too high to receive aid will continue to be impacted by these increases.

Both Noble and Schwartz said students were underrepresented on the URC.

Noble said he felt most members of the committee have almost no sense of protecting students from increases in tuition. “They have the idea that people will be able to keep paying as long as we keep increasing financial aid too,” he said.

“Everything is determined in terms of competitiveness,” Schwartz said, explaining that the actions of the University’s peer institutions influence budget discussions in University Hall. While budget plans cannot be discussed with peers before their announcement because of anti-trust laws, last year’s budget increase was affected by the other schools’ announcements, Schwartz said.

The URC initially settled on a 2.9 percent increase to recommend to the Corporation to keep the number low. But by the time the Corporation met to finalize the decision, peer institutions had announced higher increases, encouraging the Corporation to push the increase up to 3.5 percent.

Schwartz defended the intent behind these increases. “The money is not going nowhere,” he said. The increases go toward improving students’ education and the worth of the Brown degree, but other options for growing the budget should be explored further, he said.

He said one question not discussed enough by the committee is whether the University can afford to keep up with Harvard or Princeton in certain areas. A higher percentage of Brown’s operating costs come from tuition than its peers, largely because it does not have as large an endowment, professional schools bringing in revenue or sufficient government funds and outside sponsorship of research.

He said one option under consideration is an increase in the number of students admitted into master’s programs, which bring in tuition while incurring lower costs than do undergraduates.

Today’s public forum is the sole chance for students to express their opinions on the budget, said Schwartz, lamenting the poor turnout at last year’s forum, when only a single audience member attended. He called the turnout “really embarrassing” and implored UCS members to attend today.

UCS President Ralanda Nelson ’11 promised the attendance of the majority of the executive board and said she encouraged the general body members to join the discussion as well.

Later in the meeting, three candidates were appointed representatives to four University committees. Christopher Anderson ’14 was appointed to the Public Safety Oversight Committee and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center Advisory Board. Bradley Silverman ’13, a former Herald staff writer, was appointed to the Public Safety Oversight Committee. Ian Eppler ’13 was appointed to the Officer Conduct Review Board. Appointments Chair Alex Drechsler ’15, a Herald contributing writer, said the Brown-Tougaloo Partnership Campus Advisory Committee responsible for encouraging the University’s relationship with Tougaloo College in Mississippi still needs an appointment.

Drechsler said that for next semester’s appointments, his committee hopes to attract more females to the positions, since this semester’s applicants were “overwhelmingly male.”

Four student groups — What’s On Tap, Brown Students for Education Reform, Brown Polo Club and Brown Noise Toastmasters — were approved by the council for recategorization to Category III, allowing them to submit budgets to the Undergraduate Finance Board in the spring.

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