Rosen says trustees likely to ignore SGA president#039;s proposal for 4-year tuition limit

by Beacon Staff • March 4, 2009

While other colleges around the country are increasing financial aid or eliminating tuition altogether for some students, Emerson's Student Government Association President Scott Fisher thinks Emerson should be giving students similar consideration.

Fisher started a Facebook group March 4 which had attracted 351 members in one day, urging others to support him in getting the Board of Trustees to keep tuition at its current level and guarantee the cost of tuition for all four years for students when they enter Emerson.

If Fisher's plan were adopted, the board would be unable to increase tuition beyond the price promised to students when they enrolled. This would enable students to decide whether they could afford the cost of Emerson tuition.

"A tuition increase at this time of $1,000 or more could force so many students into having to transfer," Fisher said in a telephone interview. "After all the work and dedication that students put into the college, now is the time for the college to extend a helping hand."

Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen said several factors will be taken into consideration when the board meets on March 20 to decide next year's tuition, but Fisher's request will not likely be one of them. At the meeting, the board will also adopt a budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

"The state of the economy, the financial needs of the college, what other schools are doing, probably an increase in money available for financial aid-all of these things will be taken into consideration," Rosen said in a phone interview. "Will they specifically look at Scott's proposal? I don't think so."

In response, Fisher said as a student, he believes his proposal is worth the Board reviewing.

"Who understands the burden of tuition costs better than a student?" Fisher said. "My hope is that the Board of Trustees will respect the input of those affected most by their decisions."

Students interviewed said they also hoped the board would listen to what Fisher has to say.

"I think it's a negative when people are looking at our school when you're not guaranteed a price. On tours, they tell you you're not going to get financial aid," said Emma Meers, a junior marketing communication major. "I think that it's insensitive of them to not even consider [the plan]. I know people that are considering leaving because they can't pay."

Emerson tuition increased by 5.5 percent last year-adding more than $1,000-and increased by 6.4 percent in 2007, according to a iBeacon/i article from last year.

Fisher said the movement is an independent effort and the SGA has not yet taken an official stance on the issue. He plans to further the cause by making posters and said he will post a list of the board's e-mail addresses to encourage students to contact the members and support Fisher's plan.

"I'm just really hoping I can encourage people to share their stories," he said. "I want to put a face on the issue of cost affordability."

Fisher said the issue is one that is older than the current economic crisis.

"This is an accumulation of conversations I've had over the years," he said. On the Facebook group, Fisher said he personally knows someone who has had to leave Emerson because of tuition increase.

While a tuition freeze and a four-year guarantee of no hikes are the main parts of Fisher's plan, he would also like the administration to be more forthcoming on where the tuition money goes. "It's really confusing how the tuition money is spent," he said.

Funds from tuition goes into the college's operating budget, which accounts for expenses such as payroll, according to a November iBeacon/i article.

Fisher said he has not yet spoken to the Board of Trustees, but will be contacting them within the next few days. He plans to submit an official statement at the meeting and is going to try to attend the meeting to make a presentation about his ideas.

Junior Ben Appell said he supports Fisher's plan.

"It's a very good idea," the audio major said. "I don't think [tuition increases] are completely realistic because of the economy. [Emerson] didn't lose anything compared to other schools in terms of endowment."