Twenty-five students held a forum to discuss tuition increases for the 2017-18 school year at Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday evening.
The forum was hosted in collaboration with the Student Curriculum Committee, Student Government and #PoorAtAPrivateUniversity. SCC chairperson Konrad Herath, a CAS senior, said they decided to hold the discussion to encourage students who care about these issues to start mobilizing.
“Students at BU feel very strongly about increases in tuition but might not know that there is something they can do about it,” Herath said before the forum. “We want everyone to know that there is.”
Herath opened the discussion by summarizing the results of the SCC’s recent survey on the cost of tuition. Then, he turned the conversation over to Jane Dimnwaobi, SG’s vice president of internal affairs, to speak about SG’s plans moving forward.
Dimnwaobi, a CAS junior, said one of their primary goals is to create a summer orientation plan, wherein current students could speak with incoming students and their parents about the rising cost of education. She said this would engage them with the issue from the moment they start at BU.
Additionally, the groups are hoping to create a student coalition tasked with negotiating, planning and solving the problem, Herath said. The various student groups are considering teaming up with nearby universities to address the broader issues of tuition inflation.
“A lack of socioeconomic diversity will also disproportionately exclude black and Hispanic students who merit attending BU [but] who are unable to pay,” Herath said. “This university talks a lot about Martin Luther King Jr. What does BU say about his legacy if only wealthy families can send their talented children to study here?”
Dimnwaobi then talked about the importance of transparency between administrators and students when it comes to how students’ money is being spent, instead of categorizing spending in vague terms, like “auxiliaries” or “general and administrative costs.”
“Having a constant push toward transparency on where spending goes and action on identifying things that aren’t working could potentially reduce the cost of education, if not manage it,” Dimnwaobi said.
The second half of the forum allotted time for students to voice their questions and concerns about the cost of tuition.
Racquel Bazos, a freshman in the College of Communication, said she was frustrated by inequalities between different programs and schools within BU.
“We’re a multi-faceted school,” Bazos said. “Why can’t all the programs be equally, or at least semi-equally, focused on?”
Dimnwaobi said she thinks BU’s funding decisions are too focused around increasing BU’s rankings. She said competition should not be the primary factor driving the quality of BU’s education.
“We’re trying to get President Robert Brown, the Board of Trustees and other decision makers to shift away from the competition,” Dimnwaobi said.
She added that the SCC is set to meet with Brown and a several other administrators next week to talk about the rise in tuition and specific details on how students’ money is being spent, as well as what students can expect in future years.
Several students said they were frustrated with the rising cost of tuition at BU and were glad to hear that something is being done.
Helen Houghton, a freshman in CAS, said if something does not change about regular tuition increases, she might not be able to continue attending BU.
“I came to BU because of the school that it is, but I might have to leave for that exact same reason,” she said.
Brandon Millington, a freshman in the College of General Studies, said he thinks the amount of money he is paying for his BU education is “ridiculous.”
“There’s a lot of things that we don’t know,” Millington said. “I want to know where our money is going and how I benefit from it.”
Kyna Xu, a junior in CAS, said she is a transfer student to BU but has lately been questioning her move.
“I could have just stayed home and went to a state school in California, but I thought being at BU and what BU offers is totally worth that kind of investment,” Xu said. “But if [tuition] is going to keep increasing, then obviously, it’s not something that’s sustainable for my family.”