Despite student protests, tuition hearing will occur in June
Now that Runnin’ Rebels head coach Dave Rice has decided to stay at UNLV, his contract extension means a vote on tuition hikes will not take place this month as student leaders hoped.
At last month’s Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meeting, student leaders requested a vote to increase tuition take place at the board’s special meeting on April 25 so students have a chance to voice their opinions on the tuition hikes. They reasoned that a vote during summer vacation would prevent some students, who would otherwise be on campus, from speaking out.
However, a last minute agenda item to approve a contract extension for Rice has derailed the students’ appeal.
Chairman of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents Kevin Page confirmed with The Rebel Yell on Sunday evening that the regents will vote on proposed tuition hikes in June as originally scheduled.
Rice was offered a six-year contract at $1.3 million a year with South Florida on March 28, which he turned down for a two-year contract extension with UNLV. The new contract is now set for a vote for the regents meeting on April 25.
Since special meetings last only about three hours, Page said the regents will not have time to vote on both Rice’s contract and the tuition increases. As a result, Page decided to keep the tuition vote for June’s main board meeting, which may last about eight hours, but he will include an agenda item for the April 25 meeting that will allow students to give their opinion on the proposed tuition hikes.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want anybody to say they didn’t have an opportunity to speak on it [tuition increases],” Page said.
Some members within CSUN believe the vote was set for the summer intentionally to avoid conflict. With Ciavola at the forefront, CSUN has opposed tuition increases since 2012, sometimes reprimanding regents publicly.
By June, Ciavola’s term will be over along with most members of his administration, which means he can only speak during public comment. As CSUN president, he can participate in discussions at Board of Regents meetings.
Page, however, questioned concerns that a vote in June will hinder students from speaking on the hikes. He said it is an attempt by CSUN members to get sympathy in countering the tuition hikes.
“I don’t believe the argument that everyone will be gone,” Page said. “Everyone doesn’t just leave the state.”
But it was the official position of the Nevada Student Alliance, the organization of student body presidents from the entire state, to take the vote in April.
Still, Page argued by June’s vote students will have had ample opportunity to speak on the hikes. At UNLV, students gave their feedback at a town hall meeting with NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich and Executive Vice President and Provost John White on Jan. 22 and again during the March 7 regents meeting.
Ciavola said the point is not just to give students a chance to speak, but to let students see exactly where the tuition hikes will go if they are approved.
When the increases were first proposed in November by the NSHE Tuition and Fees Committee, no data was presented by UNLV administrators indicating that without a tuition hike the university would not function successfully.
A UNLV spokesperson said Tuesday that the information was not readily available. Klaich did not comment on whether UNLV administrators gave him a breakdown on how they would use the tuition increase.
“Students have had an opportunity to speak once about a generic number and not a specific proposal,” Ciavola said. “Students should speak at the very meeting when it is discussed because that is when the vote will take place.”
Page asserted that the regents will have ample time to decide whether to approve the increases depending on how the institutions’ presidents intend to use the tuition money.
Though he would vote against the increases if the regents were to take a vote today, Page said CSUN was creating unnecessary controversy to “control the agenda.” He said there was no proof that a tuition hike would create financial hardship for students because only CSUN members have spoken against them at Board of Regents meetings.
“It’s all orchestrated,” Page said. “We’re not having the average student talk about it. They [CSUN] want to control the agenda. I’m not going to allow that.”
At the regents meeting last month, both CSUN and non-CSUN members spoke on the tuition increases, along with students leaders from the Nevada Student Alliance.
While some regents argue that Nevada’s tuition rates are still some of the lowest in the country, a survey conducted by CSUN last semester showed 56 percent of the 646 respondents were against the hikes. Some comments left by students in the survey said another tuition hike would prevent them from graduating.
Since 2002, tuition has increased almost every year with undergraduates now paying $4,596 for 24 credits per academic year compared to $2,040 in 2004. If the 17 percent increase is approved, undergraduates will be paying $5,376 by 2018.
“We’ve had our tuition increase 102 percent since 2005 and the quality of our education and student services have not been improved,” Ciavola said.
Page suggested CSUN’s objection to the tuition increases was inconsistent.
“They [CSUN members] get up and say they’re against the increases,” Page said. “I’m sorry, but then you can afford an iPhone and all this stuff.”
“I have never heard anything so ignorant come out of Kevin Page’s mouth and I refuse to believe that he would hold students in such little regard than to make that comment,” Ciavola said in response.
Page remained adamant that CSUN only wants to dictate the regents’ choices and urged Ciavola to take his concerns directly to him instead.
“Mark’s not calling me,” Page said. “There’s only one institution talking about it against the fee increase and that’s UNLV.”
Ciavola asserted that CSUN was not alone in its opposition to the tuition increases and the vote in June.
“The entire Nevada Student Alliance advocated for the vote in June. It is not just CSUN,” he said. “Furthermore, when we present data in the survey that shows countless of students against the increase, it makes no sense to make the accusation that this is just me.”
The agendas indicating the location for the regents meetings on April 25 and June 5 to 6 have not been posted as of Wednesday. All Board of Regents meetings are open to the public.
CSUN is the only student government in the state besides Great Basin College opposing the current proposed tuition hikes. The Senate renewed their opposition to the proposed increased costs on March 31.