USG continues discussion over cost of college

first_imgTuesday night at the Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting, USG President Rini Sampath touched once again on the issue of college affordability.Sampath, alongside Rachel Thundat, senior director of communications, described how USG recently launched a survey addressing the issue.“We released a survey along with a Facebook post with a graphic of tuition over the past 50 years or so,” Thundat said. “It shows that [tuition] in 1950 was really low and then increasing and increasing every year. And even since we were freshmen, [I’m a senior now and] it has gone up $6,000, which I personally had no idea about. It is crazy.”Thundat said that the post was a total success.“That post got over 36,000 people reached, which was an anomaly,” Thundat said. “It was shared over 100 times, and the post was liked over 300 times. This was huge, probably one of the biggest things we’ve done yet.”A typical USG Facebook post, Thundat and Sampath said, reaches anywhere from 2,000-5,000 people and gets 25 to 100 likes. This post’s numbers were about six times that.Sampath also remarked how one of the comments in the post’s comment section said, “If you are looking to get out of this with the smallest amount of money paid, maybe you should transfer to UCLA.”“This comment reflects a lack of empathy of some of our peers for other students,” Sampath said. “It blows my mind that someone could just dismiss another person’s struggles and hardships and say, ‘You should’ve known what you were getting yourself into when you signed up for a private school.’”Sampath also said that reaching administrators on the topic of affordability can be an uphill battle.“There comes a point where you wonder if people are losing their humanity while they are considering some of these decisions,” Sampath said. “It startles me that I just can’t come up to an administrator and say, ‘Look, this student emailed me and feels hopeless because of his financial situation at USC,’ and have that strike a cord.”Luis Vidalon-Susuki, director of EdMonth, a month-long program that aims to raise awareness on the state of education in America, agreed. Alongside Sampath, he conducted a survey asking students to share their college affordability stories. He said that we are facing a dire situation.“I didn’t join USC to play partisan politics,” Vidalon-Susuki said. “Some of my friends are skipping meals to be able to pay for this tuition. I have two jobs, but some of my friends have more than that. I consider myself lucky to pay for USC, which is unbelievable … If we are really a Trojan Family, we should use some of the $6 billion we are fundraising right [now] to help our students.”Sampath also commented on struggling students.“There are students who are responding anonymously to the survey describing that they are skipping meals,” Sampath said. “And it’s not just skipping meals. It can be everything from being sleepless at night to starting a GoFundMe page to telling your parents you can’t come home for this break because you have to work.”Sampath explained that students cannot deal with mental health while also dealing with such a difficult financial situation.“[College affordability] is a human rights issue on campus,” she said. “There is no governmental oversight for private institutions … and it gets out of hand that the private institutions’ tuition increases so exponentially whereas public institutions are putting tuition freezes.”Furthermore, Sampath said that further tuition increases could severely damage the University’s multicultural diversity.“If we continue to raise tuition, there are going to be communities, particularly communities of color, who won’t be able to go to school, and that is going to quite realistically whitewash our university,” Sampath said. “You’re gonna have the one percent of the population able to afford schools like USC, and USC is going to lose out on these remarkable, talented minds that come from communities that are not [well-represented.]”Sampath mentioned her personal experience with the value of a college education.“I speak having seen my father struggle … and knowing that my family wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for the education that my father earned,” she said. “I feel particularly proud to be the first one in my family to go to college in the United States, and I want others to have that same opportunity regardless of their financial background.”Sampath is proposing to add a voting student member into the university’s Board of Trustees, the 55-member body that makes all the University’s key decisions.“You can only do so much advocacy work and then suddenly it gets brushed under the rug once the next year’s leadership comes on board. So my question is, ‘How do we make this last over time?’”Sampath talked about how public universities usually allow for a student member on their boards of trustees.“We have such a closed-door model, [in which] everything is happening behind a curtain, and students have no idea what’s happening,” she said. “We write a check every year [and] we take out these loans, but there’s zero transparency on what is happening.”last_img read more