A 4.1 per cent increase would raise tuition by $220 for 10 classes.
the Gauntlet

Tuition consultation getting sour

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Early Friday morning, before many students are done brushing their teeth, the Board of Governors will come together to decide how much debt students will accumulate after four years of degree chasing.

The board meets Friday at 8 a.m. to vote on the proposed 4.1 per cent tuition increase. The Students' Union will oppose the move.

The SU held a tuition consultation open to students in MacEwan Student Centre at the end of October for input on what the campus body would like to see. While the majority of students did not want an increase, discussion focused on improvements the tuition increase should go towards.

"I feel confident now about going to the Board of Governors with this decision," said SU president Dalmy Baez.

Controversy arose from the tuition consultation presentation and document that the SU is taking to the BOG when social sciences representative Teale Phelps Bondaroff said the SU should be asking for a tuition decrease. He argued during the Student Legislative Council meeting Tuesday that because the university failed to reach the goals set by last year's executive, the SU should aim to rollback prices to a 2007 level. Last year, the board passed a 4.6 per cent increase after a similar document was given out. It asked for a 4.6 per cent increase in student satisfaction on National Survey of Student Engagement scores, which hasn't been seen to date.

"Anyone who stays and says that we're representing students when we're not, first of all shouldn't be re-elected and second of all should seriously consider that they're not accountable to students," he said.

Albertan students already pay over $600 more in undergraduate tuition fees than the nation average. A 4.1 per cent increase would bring the annual full-time tuition at the U of C from $5,361 to $5,580.

The SU recommendations include creating an endowment for teaching excellence awards, a mandatory orientation SU session for first-years and addressing deferred maintenance in residence buildings. Phelps Bondaroff felt these goals were too vague and measuring the university's success would be difficult.

"Without actual benchmarks, we cannot evaluate the document," he said. "I think it's extremely short-sighted."

Baez assured they would decide on a metric system in the future, likely using the NSSE or Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium scores. While she admitted that different recommendations from year to year may be difficult for the university to accomplish, she also found it necessary for the SU to represent issues they feel are important at the time.

"There is something to be said about accommodating current situations and adapting to circumstances," she said. "My hope is for successors to continue in a similar approach so the university will be able to improve."

The document also calls for a reorganization of administration to a "genuine community." The 4 to 1 Approach asks for a vision statement to improve the university's sense of direction.

"The issues we've identified is there seems to be a lack of understanding of everyone's roles and how they fit into the bigger picture," said Baez. "We all felt that although the university is quite new, it's really time to start exploring different methods to making decisions."

Phelps Bondaroff argued the approach would benefit the institution in the long run, but was unrelated to the issue of increased tuition. He threatened to quit his position if the SU does not take a stronger stance on future issues like the arts faculty amalgamation.

"I'm sure the BoG will pass this document because it holds them to no obligation," said Phelps Bondaroff.