EDITORIAL: Tuition allocation should mirror student concerns

Given the petitions created by several groups on Grounds, the need to address new programs is clear

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If the University must raise tuition, then it needs to put its money where its mouth is in supporting diversity.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

The University recently announced that it was considering a 2 to 3.5 percent tuition increase for the next academic year. While tuition hikes of this sort are not unusual — since 2012 there have been similar hikes — students still balk at the idea of paying more. Students and their families often become frustrated with tuition increases, especially if these increases fail to extensively improve their experience at the University. The administration, especially under University President Jim Ryan’s “Ours to Shape” initiative, should wisely allocate money to programs requested by a student body that prioritizes issues that directly affect students’ education experiences.

University Vice President for Finance Melody Bianchetto explained that tuition increases come from a variety of factors, ranging from rising annual operating costs to spikes in their utility bill. Bianchetto also emphasized that increases stem from new academic initiatives, such as the New Curriculum and the Forums. A push to offer higher level seminars, where the student to professor ratio is low, also drives up costs. 

Taking Bianchetto at her word, we should evaluate what types of curriculum should be supported by the University through the allocation of increased tuition. The #LatinxUVA open letter makes the compelling argument that the University should expand the Latinx Studies minor into a major program. In order for this to occur, the University needs to both hire more professors knowledgeable in the field as well as increase course offerings within this area of study. If money is available for allocation to this initiative, the University should absolutely put its weight behind the Latinx Studies expansion. 

By the same token, the Asian Leaders Council released a report titled “We Are Not Invisible” asking for academic reform, which lists many of the same grievances as the Latinx community. The ALC also has made a stand for increased course offerings and expanded Asian American tenured professorships — in the College, Asian American students comprise 14 percent of the student body, while Asian American professors hold 8.46 percent of the professorships. Enlarging Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies as well as working towards departmentalizing the American Studies programs would serve to reach these communities’ goals.

As the “We Are Not Invisible” letter eloquently addressed, “Diversity is more than a mere buzzword; it is crucial for offering new perspectives and for challenging intellectual spaces.” If the University must raise tuition, then it needs to put its money where its mouth is in supporting diversity. Student-led initiatives, where reasonable demands have been voiced and supported by petitions, prove that a significant portion of students support these communities’ concerns and want to see them actionized. If the University is truly “Ours to Shape,” let students help sculpt that future.  

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the executive editor, the editor in chief and three at-large members of the paper. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

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