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University of California Postpones Tuition Vote

Do UC our debt?

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“Hey hey, ho ho, student debt has got to go!” chanted University of California students at the UC Board of Regents meeting. While the midterm season is in full swing, students from across the ten campuses traveled to the University of California, San Francisco to protest the proposed tuition increase.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the increase, which would take effect in 2018-2019, would raise in-state tuition by 2.7%, or $342. Students who live outside of California were in for a worse fate as their nonresident tuition would increase by $978.

Frustration over the continued rising costs of the university, students mobilized by protesting, calling their state representatives, and expressing their frustrations on social media. Elected representatives spoke out against the hike, including Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and Speaker of the California State Assembly Anthony Rendon.

On Wednesday, January 24, much to the celebration of students across the state, it was announced by the UC Board of Regents that the vote would be postponed until the May meeting. Until then, the UC Board of Regents committed to lobbying the state legislature for additional funding, as the current state budget allocated $34 million less than what university administration expected to meet their financial needs.

While tuition in California was once free, the rising costs of tuition (paired with the ever-increasing costs of living) have students shaking their head.

Last January, the UC Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 2.5%, raising costs for the first time in six years. Four months later, a state audit revealed that the university hid $175 million in a rainy-day fund, while continually demanding more funding from the university. Further controversy erupted when it was discovered that Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, spent more than $4,000 on an employee’s retirement party, $13,000 for a dinner party to honor two departing members of the Board and $862,000 spent on the president’s apartment in Oakland.

The state isn’t blameless, either. While California is celebrated as a progressive state, the legislature continues to divest from higher education, providing less funding to meet the exponential need of college graduates within the state. From 2012-2013, tuition was a part of the core funding for the university, with $2.98 billion contributed solely from students. As state legislatures and university officials clash, often, it’s at the expense of underresourced and over-paying students, causing spikes in tuition as substitutes for critical conversations and political negotiations.

“The university and the state legislators can work together by putting aside their differences and work toward the goal of looking at the data together and coming up with a solution collaboratively,” said Jonathan Abboud, graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara and one of the lead organizers behind The $48 Fix, an organization working to reclaim California’s Master Plan for Higher Education.

While students celebrate their well-deserved victory in postponing the vote, only time will tell what the final administrative decision will be. Only one thing is certain: that the voices of students will continue to be amplified, and unflinchingly demand a seat at the table for the decisionmaking processes toward the future of their university. And that, regardless of the vote, is something to celebrate.

“I’m most excited for students to regain their agency,” said Paul Monge, the UC Student Regent. “We are, in fact, partners of the university and of the state.”

The next UC Board of Regents meeting will be on March 15-16 at the University of California, San Francisco.

Julia is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, studying Public Policy with an emphasis in Social and Cultural Policy. While she’s currently on a gap year to help with Hurricane Harvey relief, Julia is a 5x author, a contributor for the Los Angeles Times, and frequent visitor of Disneyland. You can contact her at juliaschemmer@gmail.com.

Academics

Inside the Ivy: New Presidents and Immigration

The one with Harvard, new presidents and immigration reform panels.

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Harvard finally names a new president

Harvard University has hired one of its own as the 29th university president, Lawrence Bacow.

The Harvard Crimson reports, “Bacow, 66, formerly served as the president of Tufts University and the chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has also held roles at the Kennedy School, the Graduate School of Education, the Law School—and, most recently, on Harvard’s own search committee.”

Bacow will be taking over at a precarious time for higher education and Harvard; he will face a presidency that goes against university ideals and has enacted tax policies that will cost the university millions, an underperforming endowment and the roll out of Harvard’s controversial policy that penalizes membership in single-gender social organizations.

Jeb Bush and Joe Biden at Penn’s Silfen Forum

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports, “Members of the Senate failed to advance any immigration laws on Feb. 15, leaving the fate of various U.S. immigrants in an ongoing state of limbo. News of the vote came in as hundreds of attendees sat in Irvine Auditorium, listening to former Vice President Joe Biden and former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush discuss immigration policy with Penn President Amy Gutmann.”

The event, “Policy Adrift: A 21st Century Framework for Asylum Seekers, Refugee’s and Immigration Policy,” was part of an annual series of panel discussions on modern issues.

Conversation on the panel quickly shifted to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Randoms:

A little bit of hope for a tough week and love for Valentine’s Day

Princeton has its own dating app

Quote of the Week:

“#MeToo is just so simple. It is really just a conversation starter. Or, [it can be] the whole conversation. This is a movement that’s about healing. [The phrase] comes from a place of trying to connect.

– Tarana Burke, #MeToo movement founder and leader at Brown University

Tweet of the Week

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Academics

Yale Starts Financial Aid Program to Cover Sorority Dues

Yale University hopes to reduce financial distress caused by membership dues with a new financial aid program.

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For people in Greek life, membership costs can be a source of financial distress. Yale University hopes to change that with a new financial aid program.

The Yale Panhellenic Council announced that they will be launching their first financial aid program this Spring semester.

Each of Yale’s four sororities, Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi will receive roughly $200 to cover for membership dues according to Panhellenic Council President Lucy Friedmann ’19.

Members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority tabling on campus.

“We decided that as a body, we have the capacity to give more money,” Friedmann said to Yale Daily News. “It’ll be up to each sorority’s discretion whether they give it to one person or distribute it among people who need financial aid.”

Friedmann also said the funding for the new financial aid program will come from registration fees the council collected in previous years and has saved. According to Yale Daily News, the registration fee for sorority recruitment was $15.

Other colleges have started initiatives like that to help with membership costs in the past. At Penn State, the Panhellenic Council founded the Panhellenic Scholarship Fund in 2013 to “help multiple women who need financial assistance with their sorority dues.”

That year the fund split $3540 between 12 recipients and in 2016 it provided $3,830  to 17 recipients, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The move came after students at Penn indicated that sorority membership dues, which ranged from $550 to $917 for freshmen not living in-house in 2015, posed a significant obstacle for students from lower income backgrounds.

At Cornell University and Columbia University, financial aid does not cover sorority membership fees, though sororities at the two schools have the option of offering their own financial aid, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

 

At Yale University, Alpha Phi requires new members to pay $750 for their first semester, $430 for their second semester and $350 for subsequent semesters. Kappa asks new members to pay $495 and active members to pay $395 every subsequent semester.

Pi Phi required members to pay $665 for their first semester and $411 for each subsequent semester. Theta required new members to pay $662 for their first two semesters, and active members to pay $487 in the fall semester and $395 in the spring semester.

Some were doubtful whether the amount offered would make much of a difference.

Kat Corfman ’21, who participated in this year’s rush but decided not to join a sorority, said to Yale Daily News that she appreciated the Panhellenic Council’s efforts to make Greek life more accessible at Yale but is unsure whether $200 would “make much of a dent,” considering the total cost of dues for each member.

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Academics

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Offers new Citizens Free 1-Year Memberships

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is doing it right.

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Boston is a very progressive city, and in support of new citizens it is offering an innovate perk:

Starting July 1, 2017, new US citizens living in Massachusetts can receive a free one-year family membership to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s newest program enables the Museum to become a place for new Americans to gather, make connections within their community, and create bridges across cultures, making the MFA part of their American experience.

It’s simple too: You can come to the Museum, show a copy or photo of your naturalization certificate at any ticket desk within one year of your swearing-in, and you will get a free Museum membership for one year.

This membership consists of Free admission to the Museum for one year for two adults and unlimited children (age 17 and under), and a Free MFA mobile guide rental for MFA Citizens members (available in 9 languages).

Boom!

 

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