The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Tuition without representation

 
 

When the 78th session of the Texas Legislature passed a law that transferred the authority to set tuition rates to the Board of Regents of each state University, it essentially told current and future students across the state that their voices were irrelevant.
The Board of Regents has an incredible amount of power over the operations of this University. Along with deciding how much our education is going to cost us, the board hires the chief executives of the university, approves long-term initiatives such as the campus master plan and Vision 2020 and provides an overall sense of direction for Texas A&M.
These nine individuals are also full-time professionals who are disconnected from life as an Aggie.
Appointed by the governor for six-year terms, the current Board of Regents is composed of people who simply cannot relate to life as a student. The chairman of the Board of Regents, L. Lowry Mays, is listed as number 260 on the “Forbes 400” list of richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion. Erle Nye, the vice-chairman, is also a wealthy business executive. Wendy Gramm is the wife of former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. Bill Jones served as General Counsel to Gov. Rick Perry. The other members of the board are also well connected and, to put it mildly, have done well for themselves.
It is unlikely that they go home and find that the only things left in their kitchen is a package of Ramen and a warm can of Keystone Light. If they are told they are going to have to come up with an additional $2,000 to pay a bill, they can write a check without thinking twice. When a student is told his annual tuition is going up by $2,000, he has to take another part-time job and sell plasma.
Since all of the members of the Board of Regents have their own full-time jobs outside of the University, they simply are not accessible to hear the concerns of a student. The occasional public hearing held by the Board simply does not give students ample opportunity to be heard by those who have the final say over the most important decisions affecting Texas A&M.
This is why we need a student on the Board of Regents.
The idea of having a student as a voting member on a University Board of Regents is not new. Several large and academically renowned University systems have a student regent, including the University of California and University of Arizona systems. While there are differences in how the students serve, the basic premise remains the same. Students provide needed and valuable insights as to how the University should operate.
The Student Government at the University of Texas has been very active on this issue. Bills have been filed during the past several legislative sessions that would create a student regent for the University of Texas. During the last legislative session, Senate Bill 111 was introduced by State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos to achieve this.
The bill died in the same committee that gave birth to tuition deregulation.
The damage that has been done by tuition deregulation is not limited to A&M or the University of Texas. This is a problem that is affecting every student at a public university in Texas. This is why it is vital that a student regent be established for every university system.
Many legislators who originally supported tuition deregulation have since made comments stating that the tuition increases that resulted from their actions are much higher than they were told. They cannot trust the Regents to look out for the interests of the student body. Hopefully, they have learned their lesson well enough to give the students the voice that they are entitled to.

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