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UDems/UI Republicans Showdown: UI appropriations — UI College Republicans

BY GUEST OPINION | SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Editor's note: The University Democrats' response was supposed to run today, but they missed the deadline. Their editorial will run tomorrow, instead.

Since 2001, state appropriations to the state Board of Regents have decreased by 25 percent. Tuition now makes up more than 58 percent of the revenue for the general-education fund. Every spring, UI students mistakenly flock to Des Moines to lobby the Legislature for increased funding to our public universities. Yet, every year they return to Iowa City with another tuition increase.

Even with decreased funding from state resources, the University of Iowa has chosen to increase its budget by 13 percent on the backs and wallets of the hard-working student. Unlike any other entity that must reduce spending when their budget is cut, the universities know no such reality.

Our anger over the increasing education cost in a decreasing job market should be brought to the door of UI President Sally Mason's mansion. For once, let's demand to not be treated as a blank check by the UI administration. The disrespect shown by the administration to their customers would not be tolerated in any other business, but strangely, we just keep coming back for more abuse.

We have allowed Iowa public universities to become too big to be held accountable and too big to fail. When the university exploits students for maximum investment, while delivering minimum return, the UI thrives. Ultimately, there is zero incentive to put an end to practices that hinder education and solely promote student interest instead.

If truly educating young adults were a primary goal of this university, Mason would follow her colleague in Cedar Falls by donating her 4 percent salary raise ($18,600) to a scholarship fund that benefits her university's poorest customers. The raise was called "modest" by officials, yet University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen will donate his raise to the UNI Foundation for scholarships.

"In this very difficult budget environment for UNI, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to take a pay raise at this time," Allen said.

A prime candidate for exploitation are the students who forgo private-housing options for the (more expensive) university alternative. In fact, residence halls' budgets collected $140,000 in fines for possession of drugs and alcohol in the dorms. This manipulation of students literally fosters crime as a mechanism to increase revenue.

The UI is projected to have a $28 million surplus from our tuition and fee increases in the next year. The only logical and respectable response by the UI administration would be to return the "extra" funds to the customers in the form of reinvestment to head off next year's projected tuition increase. Until tuition is stabilized, state appropriations should not be used for any other matter that is not directed towards affordable education for the least among us. (Hint: Your tuition will still be going up).

Ask yourself, would an audit of the University of Iowa highlight an institution of waste or efficiency? As paying customers, either through tuition or state taxes, we deserve to know exactly how our funds are being allocated. Just like any government agency, there is waste, and every dollar of waste only compounds the hurt that students are already feeling in these difficult times.

If anything, always remember that the UI and the "evil" large corporations we hear President Obama speak of have a glaring similarity — they both have a bottom line and non-negotiable profit margins. More common than not, these profit margins are obtained on the backs of the least fortunate among us.

So please, before you begin your day of decrying the international travesties of Walmart, just don't forget to pay your U-Bill. UI can't turn a profit without you.

— University of Iowa College Republicans


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