Timing of hike comes off shady

Some people like surprises, other people don’t. But when it comes to spending their money, most people like to know in advance how much they are dishing out, and for what reasons.

As a preemptive move to ensure that Western isn’t left with two nickels to rub together when the Kentucky higher education budget is released next year, the Hill’s administration has decided not to take any chances.

President Gary Ransdell proposed increasing tuition by $200, or 11 percent, starting next semester to fund a plan meant to improve academics and deal with enrollment growth. The Board of Regents would then still be able to increase tuition for the 2004-2005 school year beyond the $200, but not more than 10 percent.

Though Western is the first institution this year to notify the Council on Post-Secondary Education (which monitors tuition revenues of all Kentucky public universities) of a possible mid-year increase, it isn’t the increase that we have issues with.

The benefits of $5.8 million the proposed hike would raise in new revenue would go toward several worthwhile academic initiatives including more faculty positions, increased student support programs and renovation of classroom spaces. All great ways to spend $5.8 million.

The problem with the tuition hike is that by doing it in the middle of a school year, it seems to students like it’s coming out of nowhere. When tuition has been raised in the past, students knew far in advance and had time to prepare for it.

To spring this on the student body while many are either already getting advised or in the process of registering for the upcoming semester, the administration is coming off rather shady.

Not only that, but by veiling an increase in tuition over one semester that nearly equals the 11 percent increase of the last school year and then justifying it as part of an “Academic Enhancement Proposal,” you wind up defending it like Tom Cruise did his memo as a “mission statement” in Jerry McGuire.

This has never been how Western students are used to being treated. Put aside tough budget times and the benefits this increase could bring – you have an image to uphold as well. No one is saying that this decision was made overnight or without considering all the pros and cons.

But perhaps next time there should be a little more thought about where we are in the school calendar before the price of admission for this ride goes up.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.