Texas Political Union questions what UT should invest in amid the threat of tuition increases

Emily O'Toole

UT has one of the largest endowments in the world, but the threat of tuition increases still exist, according to a statement by UT’s Texas Political Union.

The potential tuition increase is in response to a recent decrease in state funding that spurred a $20 million budget cut by the University, according to Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and co-chair of UT’s tuition committee. TPU, an organization promoting debate and civic engagement, held a discussion on Tuesday about the effects of possible tuition increases Tuesday.

Government junior Alex Walheim said there are different points to consider before making a judgment on a tuition raise, like how it would affect low-income students.

“Are we willing to accept a $100- (to) $200-increase in tuition when some people can’t afford tuition at all?” Walheim said.

While a tuition increase might be problematic for students who pay for their education themselves, for others, the expense is feasible and the education from UT is worth the cost, according to government sophomore Camilla Kampmann. Kampmann said she supports a tuition raise but acknowledges her privilege in having her tuition paid by her family.

“We pay less for tuition than students at the University of Houston or at other flagships of UT do,” Kampmann said. “The University of Texas is (one of) the highest-ranked public institutions in the nation.”

Neil Shah, Plan II and neuroscience sophomore, said the University should focus on allocating funds more appropriately rather than increasing tuition.

“I don’t think UT should raise tuition because (there was a budget cut),” Shah said. “We should spend our money in better ways. Just looking at the numbers for where we spend large amounts of money, it seems odd.”

Attendees of the TPU discussion debated whether it is the state’s responsibility to fund higher education because it is an investment in its future or if the University is responsible for securing its own funding.

Daniel Orr, TPU president and classics senior, said the state should provide funding for UT but not simply for future fiscal benefit.

“We have spent too much time talking about primary and secondary education, also postsecondary education, in terms of an investment,” Orr said. “I would maintain that we are not mere figures on an Excel spreadsheet that will, over time, grow in our economic worth and then justify what the state did. I think that we’re human beings that deserve, in the continuation of democracy, a liberal education.”