The Brandeis community received a familiar email from Interim President Lisa Lynch informing it of a 3.9 percent tuition increase, set to take effect for fall 2016. The university justified the increase by listing campus improvements, new hires and services that the money would go toward. This is not a surprise, as unpleasant as it is. We at The Brandeis Hoot Editorial Board would like to express skepticism towards the idea that significant hikes—and annual ones at that—are justified so vaguely by the administration.
The email from Lynch lists initiatives that we fully support; however we are uncertain whether our money is really going to these places. As she introduces the list, she states, “Here are some of our planned investments in our faculty, students and campus for the 2016-17 academic year, which will help ensure you have access to enriching college experiences.” However, at no point does Lynch affirm that our increased tuition will go towards these items.
Is our tuition really going toward faculty salaries or sexual assault prevention services? Or is the university just pointing out the most attractive initiatives on the table for next year? We certainly appreciate that Brandeis is putting money towards these things, but we want to know specifically what our money is going towards.
One unclear bullet point in Interim President Lynch’s email designates the hiring of more tenure track and full time faculty. A diverse full-time faculty is essential to have, but it is unhelpful that we do not know the specific departments that will gain new professors, especially after the wake-up call provided by Ford Hall 2015 on the lack of faculty diversity in most departments.
The vague reasoning for the annual tuition hike is even more frustrating after much discussion surrounding exorbitant administrative salaries. While high payments have been justified as competitive, students have to bear the brunt of a tuition increase every year. We strongly urge the board to start considering ways of finding money other than squeezing it out of students. We believe that a competent president can be obtained without having to guarantee them millions of dollars in executive compensation.
Finally, if the tuition increase funded a finite project, then once that project has been paid for, the tuition should go back down. On the contrary, tuition increases by even more the next year. Why are tuition increases compounding if a portion of them goes to projects which are eventually completed?
We understand that tuition increases happen at universities around the country. We do not want the university to sugarcoat the issue, as we believe they are. We want to know where our money is going.