The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Something to talk about

Kevin Gisi

The Blugold Commitment is a proposal from the university to increase tuition. Simply put, it’s nothing new. While our reflex, as students, is to perpetually disagree with increasing tuition costs, there is something more than just money at stake here at UW-Eau Claire.

For those of you who don’t know, the Blugold Commitment is a proposal which increases our tuition dramatically to provide more faculty, financial aid and invest more into the tuition students control (currently $1.5 million). UW-Madison and La Crosse have successfully implemented similar proposals. Eau Claire’s proposal is not set in stone. The administration has proposed an increase between $500 and $1,250 per semester. Yes, the dollar amount is alarming, but what we all should be aware of is the liquidity this proposal still has.

Our administration has brought us an outline of ideas they would like to see implemented. I promise every student it is a skeleton of ideas, not purposely vague in order to conceal their true agenda. This semester is the students’ time to append that skeleton. No matter what the administration proposes or puts forth, nothing will be implemented unless it has the support of students and Student Senate.

With that said, there is still a continual debate to be had on our campus. The question in front of us is relatively simple. Do we value the cost of our education or the quality of our education? If your priorities lay with cost, your stance will simply fall against this proposal. If you came to Eau Claire for the quality of our education, then think of this proposal as more than just a tuition hike.

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Eau Claire has lost $33.5 million dollars of state revenue in the last seven years. If you add on the additional $12.7 million we will lose in this year and next, our university will receive over $46 million dollars less from the state. Even in economically prosperous times of the early 2000s, we received less money than in previous years. To any business or economics professor this business model to remain dependent on state funds, is simply not sustainable. The trend is, and will continue to be, to receive less and less from the state. Our only other financial source now lies within tuition from the students and donations from our alumni.

Is it our responsibility to pick up the tab left by the state? Or is it our responsibility to maintain the level of education that made us choose Eau Claire? Soon we will not be able to maintain the services we currently provide. I am not talking about subsidiary services, rather, I mean majors and departments that will have to be cut or removed. It is impossible for us to keep what we have and expect the educational quality to remain the same without additional revenue.

Some critics of the Blugold Commitment argue that we need to evaluate how the university spends its current money. That is something that each office has investigated this last year in P.E.E.Q., the Program to Evaluate and Enhance Quality. This self-study analyzed areas in the university that can be merged, streamlined and made more financially efficient. The administration plans to use this self-study to make their spending more effective. Another promise I have to you is that Student Senate will not support a tuition hike unless these streamlining recommendations are implemented to guarantee our dollars are being spent wisely.

This is not just a reformation of the dollars currently being spent, but also the absolutely ridiculous requirements we all have in general education and graduation requirements. With a revision of general education requirements and the Blugold Commitment funding for more faculty, the percentage of students graduating in four years will increase. If a $1,000 per semester increase was implemented, it would still be cheaper for students to graduate in four years ($56,316) compared to current rates at five years ($60,395).

There will be plenty of opportunities to add to the skeleton that is the Blugold Commitment. It is just as much our role to secure the funding for the university as it is the administrations to free up the general education requirements and make four-year degrees possible in all majors. This semester is our time to make sure the final proposal will equally include changes to the current spending and requirements, along with our financial investment.

The Blugold Commitment is something we all should be talking about. No matter how long you have been here, this proposal will be the largest change to our university any of us have seen. Think critically, research the facts and draw your own conclusions. Continue the dialogue beyond the reaction of a tuition hike; think of the future while preserving everything we came here for.

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