University relegates students to back burner

David Hormell

In the wake of perennial financial fallout, I expect WKU to shift the brunt of the fiscal burden on the backs of students once more.

My snarky cynicism is not without reason. It stems from tradition, and WKU loves tradition. And towels.

Let’s look to history, since history has a bad habit of repeating itself.

In an email blast for faculty and staff from April 2013, a crestfallen President Gary Ransdell wrote: “The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), unfortunately, did not approve our request for a 5 percent tuition increase…  we will likely, however, still recommend to our Board of Regents a 5 percent increase for graduate students, non-resident students, and online learners.”

Ransdell will shoulder the blame for the financial fallout regardless, a given considering his job description.

However, it is without question that Ransdell’s approach to the budget gap is one-dimensional at best. Even after anticipated departmental cuts across the board, his plans disproportionately affect students. The ballooning cost of tuition steadily increased every year for seventeen consecutive years.

The rising cost of tuition is due, in part, to the swelling debt of construction. WKU has had growing pains, and Ransdell & Co. haven’t always navigated those pains gracefully.

Tuition hikes are also due to the shrinking pool of funds allocated by the state. Under Gov. Matt Bevin, attitudes towards higher education spending have soured. Last year, Bevin executed a startling 4.5 percent budget cut executively, even though it was later ruled as an overreach of power in the fall. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Higher education institutions are relegated to the back burner, and now, so are students.

It would be easy for students to ignore what probably feels like the new normal. However, subscribing to apathy isn’t a neutral vote of indifference; it’s an endorsement of fiscal irresponsibility. Being quiet is reckless at best.

Instead, make your voice be heard. Write respectful letters to our state’s servants and our campus leadership describing how increases in tuition directly affect you and your friends. Create conversations about tuition hikes and don’t let it go gentle into that good night.

There is an unquestionable strength in numbers. Don’t ever forget that.