UT should put its money where its mouth is

Evelyn Garcia

Universities across the nation are responding to Covid-19 in various ways, ranging from abruptly closing all facilities to even kicking students out of dorms with little to no time to process what is going on.

Since we’re living through a major historical event, it’s essential to take a step back as students and look at how our institution is treating us.

UT-Austin stands as one of the most recognizable and prestigious universities, so it’s safe to say that it plays a role as a model to surrounding universities in the state. As the namesake of the University of Texas System, what starts here does change at our sister schools.

That being said, I think it’s also safe to assume that the levels of satisfaction with how the school is handling the COVID-19 pandemic varies. While UT says they’re supporting their students through this crisis, the tight hold on their wallet screams otherwise.

The UT System made it clear that it would not issue any type of tuition reimbursement as it believes online courses and material work still continue to account for typical classwork and credit.

While this may be factually true, this doesn’t account for the fact that all major facilities that are usually available for students on a day-to-day basis are closed. No more Perry-Castañeda Library, no more Student Activity Center, no more Gregory Gym, and so on.

Whatever resources are currently available for students are limited by reduced hours, staff and capabilities to help students due to closures caused by COVID-19. So why should we as students continue to pay for facilities and resources that we don’t have access to anymore?

I don’t understand why UT, one of the most renowned institutions in the world, is still hoarding the money that we pay to ensure access to resources and facilities that we don’t have anymore.

The University of Texas System holds the second-largest endowment in the country overall through the Permanent University Fund. About $300 million went directly to the University of Texas at Austin in 2017, so it’s not out of the range of possibilities to simply ask our institution for a portion of our spring 2020 tuition back.

The instruction we’re now receiving via Zoom or other digital methods is a sad excuse for the world-class education UT students expect when enrolling here. From technological bumps from our professors to students being rude or “Zoombombing” in the process, the online system is a bare-bones replacement for the in-person classes on campus.

With a financially abundant institution like UT, it’s clear that whatever support for students is currently being offered, it’s purely symbolic.  

UT should put its money where its mouth is.

Garcia is a government junior from Friendswood, Texas.