EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Pushing back against new tuition hikes at the University of Oregon, a protest from dozens of students on Wednesday, ending with the group forcing its way into the office of the university's interim president and possibly making some inroads in the tuition discussion.
Oregon's State Board of Higher Education passed tuition hikes for all seven of the state's public universities last Friday, June 1st, 2012.
For the University of Oregon, it's a 6.1% tuition increase. Ultimately, with decreased fees, tuition will raise 5.9% at the UO. In dollar terms, the increase amounts to about 500 dollars per year for in-state students and 1,000 dollars per year for out of state students.
Many students aren't happy about the rate hikes though, with dozens rallying on the UO campus on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012. Students shared their struggles at the EMU Ampitheater, then rallied to Johnson Hall.
Rhiannon Springall was one student taking part in Wednesday's rally. Springall is a UO Sophomore, double majoring, doubling minoring, working two jobs and taking out federal loans to pay tuition, fees and living expenses. Springall says legislators are pricing students, like her, out of education and ultimately, a job.
“I don't know how the us expects to keep its economy a float when there are less people being able to afford to get those degrees,” said Springall.
“They (Oregon's legislators) really do need to start taking responsibility for the fact that students aren't able to afford good job,” said Springall.
About 50 protestors ended up rallying inside Johnson Hall around noon, then walking straight in to UO Interim President Robert Berdahl's office.
Within about 15 minutes, Berdahl spoke with about six of the rally's leaders about tuition. Berdahl said while he appreciates the passion from students, much of the funding picture is in the hands of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. Berdahl says state funding for the UO has decreased from 2/3rd's percent of the UO's entire budget to less than 7% of the overall budget in recent years.
“Nobody wants to raise tuition and i think as a society it's a serious, serious problem,” said Berdahl.
“They have a legitimate concern about getting an education, so we should talk,” said Berdahl.
Ultimately, on the fly, President Berdahl agreed to cancel some plans Thursday evening to meet with protestors and fellow students about tuition. That meeting will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Ben Linder room of the EMU. Students are hoping to address where all of money for the tuition hike is going.
As it stands now, come next school year, UO's undergraduate student will pay around $9,300 per year for in-state tuition, and more than $27,000 per year for out of state tuition.