The Undergraduate Student Government will now have a say in tuition decisions following Provost Elizabeth Garrett and Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Jackson’s decision to allow the USG president to attend a May meeting regarding tuition.
The 2012-13 USG President Mikey Geragos said the USG president will be invited to the Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee. The USG president will sit in on a presentation made to the committee, which reviews all tuition changes. The president will be allowed to pose questions to the committee and can then relay this information back to his staff.
At the commencement of the following school year, the USG president will meet with Garrett and additional members of the USG president’s cabinet to have an in-depth discussion regarding any issues that undergraduates might have with the tuition or any tuition changes.
USG passed a resolution in December requesting that a student representative be able to attend all university administration and Board of Trustee meetings.
USG cited the rising tuition cost as reason for requesting a student representative at the meetings. The tuition rate for university undergraduates rose 70 percent from 2001 to 2011, adding about $1,700 to tuition each year.
“We are very excited that we made progress on this crucial issue,” Geragos said. “Students don’t understand enough about where their tuition dollars are going or how they are being used. As [a] part how they are being used. As [a] part of this university, I think it is the right of the students to be able to understand the financial situation USC is in.”
The new process will allow the president to discuss the tuition with the administration. The president will then make a presentation to the rest of USG to explain what tuition decisions were made by the student government representatives and the administration.
USG senators said the voice of undergraduates will be better represented and more influential in administrative decisions because of the inclusion of student representation in decisions regarding tuition.
Logan Heley, a Greek senator who worked on the project, said the new student-involvement system will encourage students to participate in an issue that affects most students.
“I’m hoping that these new opportunities for student involvement will show students that they can contribute constructively on tuition decisions,” Heley said. “I hope that they can be more involved in the process moving forward.”
When the Senate passes a resolution, that decision does not necessarily go into effect. Rather, the decision stands as a recommendation from undergraduate students. Resolutions are relayed to relevant administrators.
The 2012-13 Greek Senator Matthew Arkfeld, who sponsored the tuition resolution last fall, expressed enthusiasm that this recommendation, in particular, will actually create a difference in the lives of undergraduates.
“USG often faces challenges on getting administrators to actually take action,” Arkfeld said. “However, the administration’s moving forward with this resolution is a great accomplishment, and it is really exciting to see all of my hard work on a resolution I spearheaded finally paying off.”
Geragos is also satisfied that this resolution, which was passed during his term, because it will now directly benefit students and help bridge communication between the undergraduate population and the university administration.
“This is a great step in connecting USC students with the administration on such an important issue,” Geragos said.
Many students were supportive of this next step in gaining student representation on the tuition advisory board.
“We are paying tuition and are often wondering where it goes,” said Jennie Zhang, a junior majoring in English. “It’d be helpful to have an actual student there.”
Other students said the administration’s decision highlights a timely issue and having student opinion on the tuition board will be beneficial.
“It seems like a no-brainer to me,” said John Tarver, a junior majoring in theatre. “I’m sure it would help tremendously to have a voice for the student body when it comes to tuition matters.”