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UAS Students protest tuition hikes

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

University of Alaska Southeast students, hoping to fend off continued steep tuition increases, say they'll bring their message to the University of Alaska Board of Regents today.

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The board, which oversees multiple University of Alaska campuses, will meet in Juneau Thursday and Friday, and set tuition for 2012-2013 during the meeting.

Student leaders organized a protest on campus Wednesday, where students waved placards featuring clever, and sometimes clever and angry, denunciations of the tuition increases.

Phrases like "My Dreams Just Became 10% More Impossible," "Don't Make Daddy Go Broke" and "The Grinch Stole My Education" adorned signs carried by students as they rallied in front of the campus' large totem pole and then marched through buildings.

Student Government Vice President Jamie Ginn said since she started at UAS in 2005, tuition per credit hour has gone up 50 percent.

"I think that's outrageous," she said.

The increase in question is for the 2012-2013 academic year, by which time Ginn said she'll have graduated.

"This increase doesn't affect me, but I'm still hear fighting for you guys. I wish somebody had done that for me," she told the rally crowd.

The proposal by University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble contains two tuition options for the regents to decide between, increases of 10 percent and 12 percent. They would be in addition to increases already approved for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Last year the board approved an increase of 5 percent for lower-division and 10 percent for upper-division credits.

Last spring, then-UA President Mark Hamilton proposed the increase now under consideration, which Gamble has continued to advocate.

If a 10-percent increase is approved, it would bring the cost of a credit hour at UAS and most state campuses to $178, up from the $147 per credit students are paying now.

Ginn said that when she started at UAS she was paying $99 an hour.

The UA system previously adopted a policy saying students have a responsibility to contribute to the cost of their education to the extent practicable.

Student Rudy Atencio, who was at the protest, said cuts to federal student grant programs will combine to push college out of reach of some.

"Those programs are no longer available, making it harder for a lot of people already," he said.

UAS Dean of Enrollment Joe Nelson was at the protest, "applauding from the sidelines," he said.

He praised the students for their activism, and said their concerns about the tuition increase would be heard by the university administration.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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