Affordability more important than rank

USC has been patting itself on the back a lot lately.

We came into this semester with a new president and a crisp new college ranking — a direct result of the efforts of our former president Steven B. Sample. We finally jumped in front of UCLA in the U.S. News & World Report arena, causing an explosion of “Booyah” tweets on our end, and a flurry of Facebook activity of our Bruin friends citing myriad other, perhaps lesser-known, polls that put us behind.

Still, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.

William Brown | Daily Trojan

But as we begin to reclaim the phrase “Fight On!” unironically, it’s time to temper our celebration. Rankings might be a nice notch on the bedpost for schools with such huge chips on their shoulders, but USC and UCLA administrators should be focusing on far greater concerns — namely, keeping higher education affordable for all demographic levels.

Though USC is often seen as the private school with the inflated price tag across town, UCLA’s business school is making a precarious step toward privatization — one which will come at the expense of the students’ wallets.

The UCLA Anderson School of Management is planning to end its dependence on state funds by 2015, transitioning to a model that will rely completely on private donations and tuition. The $5.6 million a year the state now allocates to the school would instead become largely the onus of business students, whose tuition would rise from $41,000 to $53,000, which includes a $5,000 discount for in-state students.

This isn’t exactly shifting gears without a clutch; the program has had to rely on increasingly less state support in the last few years and has already raised tuition accordingly.

The purpose of California’s much-lauded public school system is to provide quality education to students, regardless of their respective financial backgrounds.

Essentially privatizing a portion of UCLA’s education automatically precludes a portion of the student population — the portion that can’t foot the $50,000 bill.

Right now, UC regents are failing to do their jobs and foisting the problem off on students.

Undergraduates in UC schools have also seen drastic fee hikes, with a 15 percent rise this summer on top of two years of steady inflation. UC student protests last spring were prolifically covered by California papers but went ignored on USC’s campus, where the general sentiment was “not my school, not my problem.”

It’s time for both schools to stop squabbling about rankings. Moving up or down a few spots is immaterial if the schools are inaccessible to a large portion of the student body.

Private and public universities are often viewed on different planes, but it’s time to bridge the disconnect between Bruins and Trojans when it comes to thrifty learning.

We’re used to being advocates for our spot on the list of the best colleges in the country; now Trojans need to be advocates for change in the university system — one that’s not too far from our own.

Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and is a managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Everything is Copy,” runs Mondays.

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