USGD hosts town hall for students to discuss tuition concerns

The Downtown Undergraduate Student Government is the first USG on any ASU campus to hold and advertise an open forum for students

Out of all four of ASU's campuses, Undergraduate Student Government Downtown is the only student government group to hold and advertise an open forum where students can voice their concerns about tuition.

USGD hosted its first tuition town hall Feb. 9, which allowed students who attended the campus to voice their concerns about university prices and fees

“I came up with the idea that we should really gather a lot more feedback from students on the views on tuition and fees and really integrate that into how to operate as a student government,” said Jimmy Arwood, USGD's Vice President of Policy.  

Students were given the opportunity to voice their concerns about tuition costs and fees at the event. 

Felina Rodriguez, a junior double majoring in political science and Spanish literature and culture, said the rising cost of tuition and other fees weren’t the only financial obstacles they faced, adding expensive parking and the cost of living on and off campus housing as financial burdens. 

“While we're also paying high tuition, ASU is not making it as accessible to be able to live near the campus and attend the university because of the apartments, because of the ridiculous parking fees and because of the fees for health services, counseling services and it doesn’t seem accessible for students who work paycheck to paycheck," Rodriguez said.

Fallon Leyva, a creative writing sophomore, said she looked into ASU's budget extensively but found financial records to be anything but transparent. Leyva is also a member of Students for a Democratic Society.

"We've been tossing around the idea of tackling the athletic fee specifically ... the closest thing we can find to a line by line budget is a budget proposal and those might not be accurate because the nature of a proposal is that lines may be disputed and added," Leyva said.

Both students drove from the Tempe campus to voice their concerns, because there wasn't a forum near them — something they both said they found troubling. 

Students on the Tempe campus interested in voicing their concerns about possible tuition hikes have been offered few options by their USG representatives. 

Brandon Bishop, president of Tempe's Undergraduate Student Government, said TUSG is hesitant to host a tuition town hall.

"We wanted to wait to get some more concrete numbers about tuition before we held anything. We are still waiting for those numbers," said Bishop. 

TUSG hosted a luncheon with University President Michael Crow Wednesday, Feb. 22. While the luncheon is a chance for students to speak with Crow directly, seats are limited to 65 for undergraduate students and 25 for graduate students, and in the fall of 2016 the Tempe campus had 51,869 students enrolled. 

Bishop said Crow will meet with the Arizona Board of Regents at the end of March to discuss tuition and fees.  

Sydney Wallace, president of Undergraduate Student Government West, said the organization offers a table on campus for students to voice their opinions.

"The only thing we are doing for tuition is that we table in-between (ASU Day at the Capitol) on Feb. 21 and March 2," Wallace said. "We're tabling asking students about rates and tuition."

Ryan O'Hara, president of Undergraduate Student Government Polytechnic Campus, said a tuition town hall would be jumping the gun.

"I don’t really see anything constructive coming out of a town hall before understanding what actually will be going on with tuition."

Editor's Note: Jimmy Arwood has written opinion columns for The State Press in the past but is no longer employed by this publication. 


Reach the reporter at brookehanrahanreports@gmail.com and follow @brookehanrahan1 on Twitter.

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