One good sign of the recent student vote to expand the K-State Union with added fees was its demonstration that students recognized the value of a common good, even if it didn’t benefit them directly. These days, with slash-and-burn spending cuts on needs, that’s an accomplishment. When The Collegian first announced the plan, however, no one seemed to connect this to the story next to it on the same page, about the massive legislative cuts to our universities now about to happen unless there’s public outcry.
I’m wondering if students were given a real choice — to expand the Union or to protect higher ed and the international reputation of their degrees — if three quarters of the students would have still voted to add $160 to their four-year tab just for the Union. Most students are sadly unaware of the state’s long-term reduction of its contribution — seven percent less in 2011 alone — requiring them to pay more to take up the slack.
Perhaps its time for a real student movement to stop and reverse this destructive trend by the state. Students stepped forward long ago to “Save Our Castle” from legislative plans to tear down Nichols Hall. And they did it again more recently by combining a fee for Rec expansion with one for the library. The state should be paying more, not less, and students should tell their representatives this.
Professor of English