Organize against fee hike schedule
Hopefully, UH students didn't get so lost in all the hoopla surrounding Monday's UH System Board of Regents meeting that they forgot one of the primary issues on the agenda for the next board meeting on April 25 -- when the regents will consider increasing UH students' General Use Fee to $30 per semester hour from $18 per semester hour.
If the regents approve the administration's request, a Texas resident student enrolling for 15 hours of courses at UH in the fall semester will have to pay an additional $294 for the General Use Fee, on top of an already expensive tuition and fee bill. Resident graduate students will have to cough up an additional $162 to take nine hours, and nonresident students -- well, they pay so much now that one of the Mathematics Department's supercomputers would be needed to calculate these fee bills.
During three so-called "open forum" hearings in March, UH Provost John Ivancevich gave students the impression the fee increase is a "done deal" that will receive "rubber-stamp" approval from the Board of Regents. He, in essence, said there was nothing anyone could do to stop the fee increase.
In addition, he abrasively rebutted all student grievances and concerns about the proposed fee hike. He also refused to listen to any student suggestions for incremental raises.
Well, Ivancevich is wrong about one thing -- the UH System Board of Regents no longer "rubber-stamps" critical decisions. The regents have recently demonstrated they are not afraid to take controversial positions. They also have shown a growing concern with the plight of students at UH, a school where enrollment has fallen steadily for five years.
There is no doubt UH needs the additional funds the fee increase will generate. However, Ivancevich's impression that the regents will automatically approve the entire fee increase may not be quite on target.
UH students have about 22 days in which to organize resistance to the fee increase. Although Ivancevich and the UH administration aren't willing to listen to student suggestions about raising the fee incrementally, the Board of Regents will listen.
Everyone must understand, this fee increase is coming, one way or another. But a strong showing by students at the April 25 Board of Regents meeting could convince the regents to raise the fee to, say, $20 per semester hour in the fall, and then to $30 per semester hour for the spring 1997 semester.
Student organizations, such as the Students' Association, the Council of Campus Leaders and the various ethnic, fraternal and service organizations on campus can bring an amazing amount of pressure to bear on the regents. Letters, phone calls and the pure physical presence of 100 or more students at the April 25 meeting might convince the board to consider other options to raising the fee all at once.
Most students can find an extra $120 to $140 somewhere, but finding almost $300 lying around is a good trick, unless you are one of those fat-cat UH administrators making over $100,000 annually.