The information wasn’t ready Tuesday, but University administrators assure us that students and The Daily Cougar will be informed about proposed tuition and fees at 5:30 p.m. tonight and 12 p.m. Thursday, in the World Affairs Lounge of the University Center Underground at the student Tuition and Fee Forums.
The effectiveness of those forums, particularly as students who do attend the meetings will need to receive, interpret and analyze the numbers and processes of the proposal in the span of about an hour and a half, remains to be seen.
Information about the fee forums was probably not withheld from us for malicious reasons – this is an ongoing process, and the information isn’t ready yet. We appreciate administrators making an effort to let us know.
However the lateness of the changes to the proposal implies that UH officials didn’t have any intention of providing anyone with any information prior to these meetings – yet students cannot have either clear understanding or meaningful impact on decisions regarding tuition and fees without being informed.
That, of course, assumes UH decision-makers want students to have meaningful impact and that these forums are more than a token gesture. Rather than waiting for The Daily Cougar to call, administrators should broadcast information about proposed tuition and fees on campus, online or anywhere students can see it before the forums. College students understand words such as "tentative", "preliminary" and "proposed" and could be trusted with that information.
Of course, general student apathy makes it easy for administrators to ignore the student body. The University often goes unexamined by its own students unless problems with PeopleSoft, financial aid or advising begin disrupting personal lives.
As long as most students’ lives aren’t noticeably affected by the University’s policies, practices or actions, who’s going to raise a fuss? It’s easy to ignore a few outspoken, renegade students for a few years until they graduate, saying they don’t understand the big picture or haven’t taken everything into consideration.
By keeping students uninformed and confused, the excuse remains intact. By not pushing for more information and explanation, students allow the status quo to stand.
We hope we’re proven wrong. We hope the forums provide a vast array of helpful, insightful information and that a packed room of students and administrators engage in a meaningful dialogue about the future of tuition, fees and the University. But a true conversation is a two-way street; and so far, we don’t see anyone coming either way.