LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Financial costs accompany student activism on campus

You can’t have your cake and eat it too — a line we’ve all heard way too often. However, it’s trite but true, and aptly applies to the attitude many students have in light of recent events.

There have been several causes that have galvanized the student body. Recently, the University enacted a tuition hike from $49,464 to $51,442, coming after Undergraduate Student Government and others have been pushing for a tuition freeze. On March 7, students took to the streets to protest the decision.

Students and student government have also pushed for additional steps to improve campus. Last fall, USG passed a Campus Climate Resolution, which sought to address discrimination and diversity on campus. Among other things, the resolution called for a $100 million dollar fund to support underrepresented minorities, a vice president of diversity, and additional cultural resources. Students have even stood with campus workers in protest and to support increased wages and benefits for campus workers.

One, if not all, of these issues have been supported by the majority of the student body; however, students have neglected the practicality and consequences of the issues.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If campus workers are to receive higher wages and better benefits, then the University has to find the money to make it happen. If there is to be a $100 million fund to support underrepresented minorities and additional administrative positions, then the University must find a way to generate the necessary capital. From the University’s perspective, both of these are easily solved and accommodated by raising the tuition. But how could the University realistically acquiesce to these demands while also committing itself to maintaining or lowering the current cost to attend?

It is easy to get behind every cause worth supporting, however, each student must consider how each fits into the whole. Students cannot be naive and must practically consider the full implications of the causes they support if they are implemented. Many students claimed that the tuition hike is an indication their voice has been ignored, when in fact it is the opposite. A tuition hike is one very realistic possible consequence of the University hearing the student body’s voice, of the University meeting the demands and reforms advocated for.

The price of tuition, workers’ rights and diversity are all critical issues we must continue to discuss. But beyond the politics of each of these issues is an undeniable fact that we all must consider, which is that in many ways, one or more of them are mutually exclusive. Any failure not to observe this would be shortsighted. What really must take place is a conversation about what is most important to us as student body. If we have to choose, what is most critical? We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

Colin Parker

Assistant Director, USG University Affairs

2 replies
  1. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    Actually, this piece is a fair and accurate portrayal of reality. Young people today have become a “cake and eat it too” generation. (Not in the country legally? No problem, here’s a drivers license…. Oh, and here’s a license to practice law too! Anyone remember that one from the CA supreme court?) Many goals are virtuous, but still cost… and the cost is not always monetary. It’s often about sacrifice in many forms!

    And what’s this nonsense about USC not paying it’s employees a living wage? USC’s wages are very competitive from the top down, and include a tremendous benefits package including tuition remission for children. The under-educated or unskilled person sweeping the floors or taking your order at Lemonade clearly should not be making the same wage as the person managing one of the departments, or a professor teaching classes. So if we arbitrarily decide that the unskilled worker deserves a raise (and maybe they do), shouldn’t we raise everybody else’s wages above them, so that a “fair” and appropriate parity remains? Nobody thinks about the long term implications. There is a cost.

    By the way, the “campus climate resolution” is just that… a resolution. It’s not a law and it’s not something the board has voted to adopt. Young people think they can just bully their goals into being. Much of it is silly anyway. Diversity is currently one of the most overused and abused words. There is tremendous diversity at USC in the first place, and in Los Angeles, and in our nation. Enough with the victim-hood and coddling. Stop asking why there aren’t more black people here… or Hispanics doing this… or Asians over there! I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Stop chasing equality! Equality rarely occurs in life or in nature. Instead, chase FAIRNESS. That is actually a virtuous goal. What is fair is not always “equal”.

    We need to It’s not about who the blackest person or whitest person is… it’s about who the right person is, whatever colour that may be. That’s true diversity. That’s truly fair. And above all else… while at USC you should be focused on learning and classwork, and preparing yourself for a meaningful, satisfying and hopefully prosperous life ahead. Way too many distractions that people get caught up in these days.

  2. Nadja Barlera
    Nadja Barlera says:

    This piece presents a false dichotomy. Other schools pay their workers a living wage and still have lower tuition than USC. Most of our tuition doesn’t go to workers or student services, it goes to administrative salaries and lawsuits, that’s why USC isn’t transparent about it. Also the campus climate resolution specifically stipulated that it would not raise tuition.

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