To the editor,
This letter is in response to several articles contained in last week’s edition of The Observer.
The front page announced that Case Western Reserve University tuition will be rising again this year by 3.25 percent. In each of my three years here, CWRU has raised tuition prices by a similar amount, totaling about a $5,000 increase. The need for this increase is couched in terms of “additional strategic initiatives, operating costs and attractive salaries.” Each year, CWRU breaks its record for highest number of applicants and largest class size. Yet, despite a constant stream of students paying varying amounts for their education, CWRU finds the need to raise tuition year after year. What does this pay for? Ah, the “strategic initiatives,” also known as the Tinkham Veale University Center, pitched to the students as a campus hub, but in reality a glorified office building, aimed in truth at bumping up that number of applications and students in the Class of 2019 and beyond.
Also shown in that article is that room and board will both be increasing by around 3.5 percent. That means that CWRU will be adding about four grand to the big ticket price next year. What does this pay for? Improvements to freshman and sophomore housing, still standing from the 1960s? Changes to the options offered by Bon Appétit? No. Rather, it is paying for the construction of upperclassmen housing (to house the large upper classes that as soon as next year will be overcrowding the Village). The Observer touts its prices as “comparable to the Village,” except they aren’t, really, when comparable comes with the asterisk of “poorly equipped.” Cheapest housing in the new building, which I take to mean the maximum four-person sized apartments, comes in at $10,800, a whole $700 less than a comparable village apartment. And what do you get for that? No dishwashers, uniform room size (meaning small) and one laundry room for 290 people. For $700 more than the Village, you can live in the “townhouses” in this new complex, which I assume will be similarly equipped.
The kicker for me was reading the SEC breakdown and learning, to my incredulity, that Undergraduate Student Government receives $188,985.60 from our student activities fee every year. What does this pay for? The small blurb given in the article mentioned “the new Sparta Center resource room” and “Student Life Improvement Grants.” I doubt many on this campus have even heard of either of these things, and I wonder if this is what we as a community want to spend our money on.
And that is the problem, really, with all of this. Sure, the article mentions a meeting, where I assume I’ll be allowed a minute to bring up concerns and receive a weary smile and pat on the back before being sent on my way. But CWRU doesn’t even grant any of us that. We are led to believe we are receiving a world-class education seldom afforded to many. When, however, you see that your president makes over a million dollars a year, that your school paid your money to buy the house of a dean disgraced by sexual harassment allegations (before giving him his job back), that your money is being used to fund $20,000 Wednesday concerts and “strategic initiatives” and “Student Life Improvement Grants” and that your hard-earned scholarships and financial aid dollars are routinely devalued year after year, you might start to question what you’re really getting out of Thinking Beyond the Possible.
Nicolas Poe, junior