Western should stop adding counties to TIP

Western can’t welcome everyone with open arms.

Its pocketbook just isn’t big enough.

At Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, the regents approved adding six more counties to the Tuition Incentive Program. These counties are as close as Pickett County, Tenn. (about 100 miles from campus), as far away as the St. Louis Metropolitan area (about 290 miles from campus).

Through the Tuition Incentive Program, students in these areas get a discounted tuition. For the 2003-2004 school year, they’ll pay $2,024 each semester, while other out-of-state students will pay $3,900.

It’s nice to get more out-of-state students at Western, but eventually Western has to draw the line.

The reason the university has in-state tuition is because our state tax dollars (and our parents’) go to pay for higher education in Kentucky. We get a discounted rate, because we’ve already paid for part of our education.

But students who live in other states aren’t contributing to our state allocation pool. So why shouldn’t they pay for their whole education?

When people from other states get discounted rates, Western never gets compensated.

The university gets more students, but not extra state money to pay for them.

These recent additions to the TIP program defeat the original purpose of the program. Its purpose was to encourage students in Kentucky’s neighboring counties to attend Western.

The last time we checked, St. Louis was more than four hours away. It looks like Western is just trying to give as many major metropolitan areas in-state tuition as possible. What next, Atlanta?

We think this program, if used in the right way, could make Western more diverse, which is something we’re always in favor of. But what’s happening now won’t fulfill that goal.

Staff Regent Howard Bailey said he hopes the a

ddition of the St. Louis metropolitan area would bring more diversity to campus.

But let’s face it, we could do a little better in our hunt for diversity. Sure, Missouri might be a little more diverse than Kentucky, but if we really want to get a good cross-section of students not like Kentuckians, we’ve got to get out of the Midwest.

This program isn’t really bringing diversity. If that was what the university really wanted, Western should start recruiting from the West Coast, Northeast, Southwest . any where but the Midwest.

Or maybe the university should focus on improving the quality of Western’s programs, which would surely attract more students – with or without a discount rate.

Western’s photojournalism program is considered one of the nation’s best. It is competitive and continues to produce top-quality graduates. Its students come here from all over the nation and all over the world.

If the program is solid, students will come.

So quit taking the easy way out, Western. It’s shortchanging us, at a time when we need all the spare change we can get.

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