UA needs to address student concerns

Every student who wasn’t quite lucky enough or studious enough in high school to get a large scholarship has one major issue constantly weighing on his brains: money.

If it weren’t for the cost of attending school, a behemoth that seems to be constantly growing, students might be able to enjoy flexing their academic muscles. Personally, I could have looked into adding a journalism or telecommunication and film degree to my repertoire. With the pressure students have of getting out as soon as possible in order to pay as little as possible for school, a lot of extracurricular activities and optional classes go unrealized for many students.

Want to take that theatre class to see if you like it? No can do, it won’t fit. How about that women’s studies class? Only if you want to stick around another semester. Religious studies? If only God would grant you the money you need to pay for it.

I’m not going to pass judgment on whether or not the tuition hikes are necessary. I don’t even know how much tuition has jumped in the five years I’ve been at the university, but I do know I owe my parents, older sister and the government quite a bit of cash when I graduate in August. But that’s my problem, not the university’s. After all, the nation is suffering financially, which often trickles down to public institutions.

The problem I have with the tuition hikes is having no clue where all that extra money that is being asked for is going and specifically why the hikes are necessary. Where exactly is all the money going?

Really, any governing body, from the Student Government Association to the U.S. government, needs to be open with the public, especially financially. Considering how money is seeming more and more like a luxury these days, it seems to me that knowing where it’s going and that it’s being spent the way we want it to would be a good thing.

Why is there construction on every corner of the UA campus? How will it benefit the university and the student body? Could money being spent to improve building facades, like B.B. Comer this past spring, be spent to build more necessary things, like eateries and parking decks? How much money, if any, is going to pay for perks for people in the administration?

Openness shows trust. Trust begets efficiency. And efficiency is definitely something that could be used in any situation.

But there is more to openness than just saying, “This is how we do things.” There is also the openness of listening to concerns or complaints by the consumers, which, in the University’s case, is the student body.

While I’ve never personally had a problem with the UA parking system, as I don’t own a car and can often be seen walking down Jack Warner Parkway to get where I need to go, recent talks I’ve had with friends who do own cars tell me some dialogue could be helpful.

For example, why is it that “priority” or “Honors” freshmen and sophomores, who have given little in comparison to the juniors and seniors of this campus, get to register for parking before many upperclassmen? There are seniors who have spent 3-4 years paying for academia and amenities who will not be getting parking, while freshmen that have not even stayed on campus for more than a week or two get their first choice. How is that fair?

And it’s not just parking. How is it that a senior, who needs certain classes to graduate or finally has room in their schedule to take a couple of classes outside the strictly necessary ones, can be bumped out of a class, even upper level, by freshmen and sophomores? True, non-priority seniors and juniors aren’t asked to do as much as a priority/Honors student is. But, if I remember my one year as an Honors student correctly, the only difference is that Honors students are held to a higher standard. They pay no more than anyone else to get their perks and often have scholarships to assuage even the normal cost of things.

So, really, I just think UA needs to be a bit more open. Start being proactive and letting people know what you’re doing and why, especially with money. Tuition hikes make people jumpy. Let your student body know they’re okay and their money is being used wisely.

And start larger dialogues with the student body so they can field complaints and concerns. Maybe start holding monthly question and answer forums. Maybe open a Twitter account to field inquiries. Maybe work with the student paper. That seems to be where everyone goes to complain about things, after all.

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