Sep 12, 2011

By Fine Print Staff

As The Alligator reported Tuesday, “UF’s administration withdrew the proposal for block tuition indefinitely… postponing a measure that proved unpopular with many students.”

If you’re new to UF, “block tuition” is the idea of charging students a minimum tuition fee equivalent to the value of 15 credit hours each semester, even if they’re signed up for less than fifteen credits. The policy was proposed by the administration last year as a way to pressure students into signing up for more classes each semester, thereby increasing UF’s four-year graduation rates. The policy would have also increased UF’s revenue by $4 million to $5 million, which is “not that substantial” compared to its total revenue, according to UF spokesman Steve Orlando. The driving force, he said, was to get students “done as quickly as possible to provide accessibility for incoming students.”

The proposal was a little bit controversial, to say the least. Students with part-time and full-time jobs (in 2009, that was 42 percent of all students) would have had to pay about $500 extra for classes they simply didn’t have time to take.

Okay, so let’s move forward to 2011. On a Sept. 6 Board of Trustees meeting, UF Provost Joe Glover said block tuition is no longer necessary, referring to a recent spike in four-year graduation rates. In 2010, the rate was 64 percent, compared to 58 percent in 2009. UF’s four-year graduation rates have been steadily rising since 1991. Whether the 6 percent increase between 2009 and 2010 is an unusual spike or the start of a larger trend, could there be any other factor that may have influenced the administration’s decision? As reported by Christina Rabaza, one of our contributing writers, in 2010:

“About 100 protesters marched to Tigert Hall Nov. 17 with signs, chants, 750 petition signatures and personal accounts of what block tuition means to them. About 30 protesters sat in on the Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 9, which [UF Trustee Carlos Alfonso] said more than likely swayed the board to delay the policy’s implementation.”

In Student Government elections last Spring, 90 percent of students voted against block tuition, a victory celebrated by both competing parties. Let’s not forget that the administration’s decision to place block tuition on the ballot in the first place was the result of a petition put forward by members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

Wait, did SDS actually accomplish something? The Alligator seems to think they’re useless: “Next, we throw a we-don’t-want-to-pay-higher-tuition-either-but-holding-picket-signs-isn’t-going-to-do-anything DART to Students for a Democratic Society.” That’s right—screw off, SDS. Student protesters should shut up, go home, and swallow whatever the administration tells them.

On August 30, members of SDS turned in more than 1200 signatures to get another question on the ballot for the next round of student elections, which will be held on Sept. 27 and 28. The question reads, “Do you support repealing the 15 percent tuition increase at the University of Florida?” If your answer is “yes,” you might want to pick up a sign, occupy some buildings, and give ‘em hell. It’s not like Student President Ben Meyers will stick up for you this time, since he made it clear in June that the 15 percent tuition increase is perfectly okay with him.

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