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Student Leaders Plan Demonstration Against Large Tuition Hikes

Increase Discussed, Response Agreed On

By Acadia Otlowski

Students have started organizing demonstrations after the Board of Regents Finance Committee pushed a vote this Tuesday that would approve a significant increase for in-state tuition for Connecticut State University (CSU) students.

David Ravizzo leads a discussion to student leaders at a public forum last Thursday.

“Whenever the state is looking to rise a little more or save a little money, they cut our funding for the state universities,” said Danny Ravizzo, a member of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the one organizing protests in colleges across the state.

Student leaders from across the state met at an open forum held Feb. 21 at CCSU. Their organized protests ranging from the campus to a protest in Hartford later in March were planned to get as many students involved as possible.

“To build momentum takes time,” said CCSU SGA Sen. Chris Marcelli at the forum. “The more you ask from people the more they give you. If you ask them to come to five things they’ll come to one.”

The proposed tuition increase would affect all in-state students attending CCSU. The Connecticut students living on-campus face as much as an $835 increase in tuition from this year to next year, according to documents from the Board of Regents. This represents a 4.5 percent increase in tuition for those students.

Manchester Community College and Quinebaug Valley Community College attended the forum to contribute their perspectives on the budget cuts and tuition hikes.

In-state commuter students would be expected to pay  $385 more than this year, a 4.6 percent increase.

Despite these numbers, what has enraged those organizing against the proposal is that out-of-state students will pay a lower tuition this year than they did last year.

According to documents from the Board of Regents, CCSU residential students from out-of-state will pay $113 less, a commuter from out-of-state will pay $563 less.

All CSU schools except Eastern project a drop in enrollment in upcoming years. In the Finance Committee’s proposal to the Board of Regents, it is suggested that these low numbers stem from a lack of out-of-state students who are daunted by high tuition rates.

“Everyone would like to see it as minimal as possible,” said President Miller of the tuition hikes. He explained that mandatory pay raises  for unionized faculty accounts for millions of dollars that are not accounted for in the budget.

“It’s not realistic for it to be zero,” said Miller of the increase.

His opinion regarding the drop in out-of-state tuition is that it reflects the CSU’s desire for revenue.

“My opinion is that the out of state students pay so much more. I think they’re (the Finance Committee) hopeful it will bring in a few more people,” said Miller, explaining that the out-of-state students bring in more revenue than in-state students.

Despite this, student leaders express the feeling of being alienated by the cut in out-of-state rates.

“I know I was elected into our Student Advisory Committee to represent all students, but the high majority of our students are in-state residents and I have to look after that,” said CCSU SGA Treasurer Nick Alaimo.

“One thing that does kill me is the out-of-state residents and [the fact that] they are at a decrease right now,” Alaimo continued, reflecting the sentiments of many students who feel as if the drop in out-of-state rates is unfair.

Others worry that residence halls will become even more quiet with the raise in tuition. Robert Vance Hall, a dormitory on campus, has begun to offer single rooms to students, hoping to entice students to live on campus.

“The room at last week’s IRC meeting became uneasy very quickly when I mentioned the idea that resident tuition and fees could increase by $890 next year, based on most recent recommendations. I’m very concerned about the number of students choosing to live in the residence halls,” said Bergenn.

“Living here on campus is very expensive compared to living off-campus. I lived two years here (on campus) and two years in an apartment and it’s significantly cheaper to live off-campus,” said Alaimo, citing cost as a main factor as to why students do not live in on-campus housing.

Student leaders at the open forum planned the first stages of demonstration for a little more than a week from the forum on. By then, they hoped to already have some students engaged in the process of informing others.

“My thinking is to get as many people as we can,” said Daniel Piper of the CCSU Youth for Socialist Action at the forum  on Thursday. “It’s to add a second layer of leadership into this. People who get personally invested have a better understanding as to what is going on, get in the game plan, and make those personal connections.”

Student leaders have planned a building meeting just after a panel discussion about the value of a college degree. This will be held March 5, after the Board of Regents votes on the motion proposed by the Finance Committee. There will then be a rally in the Student Circle at 2 p.m. on March 11.