SOU plans to raise tuition between 8.5 and 13.5 % for the coming year in anticipation of the expected budget set by the Oregon state legislature.
In response to the increased financial burden on students, a walk-out and rally event is planned for Thursday, June 6 at 12 pm. Organizers of the event argue that legislators should allocate an additional $180 million to higher education in their upcoming budget vote.
One leader of the event, Johanna Pardo (ASSOU Director of Governmental Affairs and member of the OSA board of directors), explained that this money would come from the kicker, a refund to Oregon taxpayers from the state’s budget surplus. This does have a precedent–a resolution passed this year by the Oregon state legislature allocated funds from the kicker to fund public K-12 education.
“Oregon legislature has continuously divested from higher education,” said Pardo, and SOU administration agrees.
In a statement to the university announcing the likely tuition increase, SOU President Linda Schott said that “lawmakers continue to shift the burden of higher education from the state to our students and their families.”
Whether organizing will do much to sway legislators remains to be answered. However, by sharing stories and putting faces to the issue, walk-out organizers hope to demonstrate that students, faculty, and staff are paying attention and will exercise their power to vote accordingly in upcoming elections. If the event does not affect the budget outcome, Pardo wants legislators to know that their constituents are paying attention. Said Pardo, “We will not forget that was how they voted…and we will vote them out of office.”
Should the legislature provide more financial support than expected, the Tuition Advisory Council (TAC) has presented several options that can be implemented by the university. If more money is allocated toward higher education, SOU is prepared to lessen the tuition increase.