With 20 seconds left in the hour, headphones were on and microphone’s volumes were raised as the on-air red light flashed and the specialized group geared up to discuss a topic close to home to K-State’s students: tuition increases.
KSDB, Manhattan’s student-run radio station, hosts roundtables with professionals to discuss specific topics that can be controversial or complex in a frank and thorough matter. Past roundtables include topics like concealed carry and mental health awareness at K-State.
In recent news, Kansas proposed a plan to cut funding to higher education in the state once again, resulting in a tuition increase for students and a continuum of stagnant pay wages for faculty. KSDB News Director, Lucas Peterson, brought the topic to a roundtable Wednesday.
“The big question I wanted answered from this roundtable was whose fault is it that students are struggling financially and what is being done to help students,” Peterson said. “What is being done to fix the problem?”
The roundtable discussion focused on three main points. The first being why Kansas is providing less financial support to higher education. Those involved in the discussion looked at the history of Kansas’ budget crisis with the help of Senator Tom Hawk.
“This roundtable is a chance for me to educate students, faculty and friends of K-State as of what I think is a critical issue, and that’s keeping the price of a high quality education like what we have a K-State, affordable,” Hawk said. “I don’t personally think my group has been doing its fair share of that in the legislature.”
Next, the panel was asked why K-State’s tuition is increasing. Cindy Bontrager, vice president of finance, said when state funding is cut, pay raises for faculty are nonexistent and maintenance fees become more difficult to pay.
“We are truly trying to balance the quality of our education that our students receive with where that tuition amount and that fee cost should be,” Bontrager said. “We’re doing everything we can to be efficient and making sure that the revenue that we are receiving is being spent as wisely as we possibly can.”
The guests discussed strategies to fight rising tuition and help financially-burdened students.
Student body President Jack Ayres, senior in chemical engineering, and student support director Stephen Kucera, graduate student in accounting, explained ways the Student Governing Association has been involved in encouraging student involvement in committees like the legislative advocates, or helping with direct impact through the new food pantry, Cats’ Cupboard.
“I think that if even one student learned something from this roundtable, maybe about the food pantry, or if one student goes out and registered to vote, or if somebody is out there listening and felt touched and now they understand the true gravity of higher education funding situation in Kansas, then my hour was very well spent,” Kucera said.
To hear the full roundtable discussion, visit ksdbfm.org