Tri-campus group discusses raising tuition to fund salary increases

Raising tuition to fund faculty salary increases was a controversial topic at a recent tri-campus meeting.

The Tri-Campus Board of Directors — a body encompassing the executive board members from ASUW Seattle (ASUW), ASUW Bothell (ASUWB), ASUW Tacoma (ASUWT), and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) — met in the HUB on Saturday to discuss topics for the 2013 tri-campus annual survey. On the survey, the group will ask students’ opinions about using higher tuition to increase faculty salaries. 

The survey will also include questions about having a smoke-free environment on campus and about the Common Application.

“This is a survey to hopefully get the greater student body thinking about [these issues] and to hear the opinions of students, especially [students] on the other campuses,” ASUW President Evan Smith said.

On the Seattle campus, many of the items on the survey have already been established as student opinion through the ASUW Student Senate and the Board of Directors. Smith said the survey can be viewed as another form of data collection and will serve to assess student opinion. 

One topic of controversy on all three campuses was the idea of faculty salary raises. The ASUW recently passed a resolution supporting state-funded staff and faculty salary raises, also implying that if the state were to fail at providing funds, students support a potential tuition raise. Other members of the tri-campus board had different opinions.

GPSS President Adam Sherman said that at a recent Board of Regents meeting, he learned of a study on students’ mental health that showed the No. 1 reason for increased anxiety is concerns about their financial situations.

“When we are thinking about this issue in regards to the mental morale of the students, I am concerned about using tuition money,” Sherman said.

Peter Pentescu, an ASUWT senator, said he is hesitant to have high hopes about state funding for salary raises.

“It’s been said that [with the financial situation down in Olympia], K-12 education gets absolute highest priority, and it would be nice to advocate for [salary raises], … but we cannot count on it,” Pentescu said.

The tri-campus board placed a question on the survey regarding salary increases and will further discuss this issue after the boards compile evidence both from the survey results and through the constituents at each campus. 

Regardless of the results of the survey, the association still stands by the senate resolutions as the official student voice, but Smith said, in the case the survey brings back results that drastically differ from the resolution, measures will be taken to reassess the structure of the ASUW to make sure it fairly represents the student body.

The survey will be sent out within a couple of days at each of the three campuses via all-campus emails, and the results from the surveys will be evaluated during the first week of spring quarter. The tri-campus board will meet again April 12 to start drafting resolutions.

Reach reporter Diane Han at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @di_aneee

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