A few days ago I was told about our Board of Trustees’ decision to increase the cost of room and board by 4.28%. Is this surprising? No, not really. According to data from AcademicInfluence.com, the cost of attending Lewis & Clark for one year was equivalent to about one third of the median family income. In 2021, the cost was greater than one year’s worth of income. What do we do? Protest? Yes, protest. But, the bigger issue is the American economy and capitalism.
A rise in tuition is not new. It has been happening for years — even decades. Why can the school not operate as it already does with current tuition rates? Yes, increasing our tuition could give us better facilities and resources, but at what cost for students?
For the next couple of years, we will have to put up with construction which only limits what resources we have access to. For example, the Templeton Student Center remodel has taken away access to multiple floors, which means our mailroom moved locations and our student unions have no office space to meet and hold events. Additionally, Maggie’s, our old café on the residential side of campus, closed down, which makes it more difficult for students to get drinks and food. On the bright side, some of the closed-off spaces in buildings are slowly beginning to open, including the Trail Room and the Market.
Our college could probably get along fine with tuition costs that are even lower than what they already are. But they choose not to, and instead increase the strain of tuition on us and our families.
Our college administrators and Board of Trustees are well aware of the increase in tuition. I wonder how many people will be able to continue attending LC. They risk pushing low-income students further away and having current students drop out as a result.
I love the campus, the teachers, the people. I finally feel like I have a community who genuinely likes me to the point that I do not have to worry about being myself in front of them, but I am not sure I want to continue going here with all the problems we are being faced with.
The school is making it seem like it is our problem to deal with, but it is the problem of the Board of Trustees. They are the ones in power. They are the ones who make the most important and life-changing decisions in all things relating to our experience as students on this campus.
Let us hope for the best. I have had my doubts about this school well before the rise in tuition, and they will only grow more. If this is something that bothers and genuinely concerns you, this is the time to speak out about it. If the school gets crickets and silence in response to this plan to increase tuition, that will give the Board of Trustees more confidence to make more changes in the future.