It seems that there has been somewhat of a pause for students who protested and expressed their concerns, vehemently, before beginning to take final exams and prepare final papers and then enjoy the holiday season. This is understandable. The goal here is not to raise tensions again, but the thought process regarding necessary changes should be ongoing so that the enhancement of colleges/universities will continue when students and faculty return for the spring semester. Therefore, below is a list of fifteen items that students and faculty should ponder over the holidays and consider adding to their list of demands for Colleges and Universities for the New Year.
Note that the items are not in priority order.
Colleges and Universities:
1. The Gym
Do not charge students for lockers, towels, exercise classes or any additional items pertaining to gym usage, after they have paid their activity fee which usually/should cover gym membership. Don't you want students to have the opportunity to be physically fit without excessive expenditures?
Do not charge people who are paying tuition (students) or who you are paying (Faculty and Staff) to park on your campuses. Tuition and fees (excluding parking) are high enough for students to cover parking and you are actually getting money back from Faculty and staff paychecks by charging them to park on campus so that they can work at your institution.
3. Meal Plans
Do not make meal plans, for students, so expensive that some have to get food stamps in order to afford to eat or just walk around underfed while trying to learn. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/more-college-students-battle-hunger-as-education-and-living-costs-rise/2014/04/09/60208db6-bb63-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html
Stop raising tuition!
Do not charge students extra fees to make copies. Take a portion of the continually escalating tuition and fees (see # 4 above) to cover copies provided that students agree to limit copying to school related work.
6. Contingent Faculty
Get rid of the term contingent to describe non-tenured faculty. It is a term, which focuses on the tenuous relationship of the faculty and the University rather than the devotion and commitment to teaching provided by these Professors. Also, provide them with benefits. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/higher-education-college-adjunct-professor-salary/404461/
Do not make students, particularly graduate students, pay for their fall and spring housing, during the summer, that they will need when they return in the fall. If they are enrolled for the fall, do not make them take courses that they don't need during the summer, to keep housing. Allow subletting of the housing for the summer, if you must, and let the students have their housing back in the fall and spring. Let this process continue until they graduate.
8. Health Insurance
Do not charge outrageous fees for health insurance for students that must have it to protect their health and your liability, in case they become ill while at your institution and so they do not get an Obamacare penalty (if not on their parents plan or if over the age of 26) for not having insurance. Again, use some of the escalating tuition and fees (which should not continue to rise) for their tuition to cover their health care insurance. Provide all graduate students with free health care insurance.
9. Teaching Assistants (TA's)
Make sure that every Professor, non-tenured and tenured Faculty, has a TA if they have a sufficient number of students in their classes. The sufficient number should not be determined by Administration but based on the needs of individual Faculty members. TA's must be a given.
Stop the excessive building/construction on campuses, which perhaps is another rationale for your charging increasingly high tuition. Higher tuition requires most students to have to take out substantial loans with high interest rates putting them in debt before they graduate. The total student loan debt at this writing is over 1.3 trillion dollars. http://collegedebt.com/ The next time you think about constructing another building, make a decision to use that money to help students pay off student loans or to give to students as scholarships.
11. Salaries of Administrators and Athletic Coaches
Reduce the salaries of Administrators and Athletic Coaches simply because the salaries are outrageously high and again, contribute to the escalating tuition that is putting students in debt. Eliminate redundancy in terms of administrative positions.
Stop having so many meetings between faculty and administration. Every minute that faculty spends in meetings with administration, takes away from time that could be spent advising students.
13. Student Loan Advisement
Offer a required course for every major, to be taken by every student who has student loans, to go over the steps and programs available to avoid default. This is not the exit interview to terrify them about how much they owe and what will happen if they can't pay but the options available to them to manage them effectively. http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Your-Student-Loans-Part-ebook/dp/B00HNF3XWC
Assign each student to a career advisor to secure a job or the start of an entrepreneurial opportunity/venture once they graduate. Part of the career advisor's evaluation and any potential merit increases should be based on their success rate in securing positions/entrepreneurial opportunities for students. If students are unable to find a return on their academic investment, in terms of income related to their field of study, the college/university should return a portion of their tuition.
15. Campus Spaces
Do not rent out spaces on campus that students need to utilize to study (rooms and gathering spaces) and live (housing spaces) and beyond so that you can make extra money for conferences etc. held on campus, especially during critical study times (midterms/finals). The university spaces are primarily for students based on the substantial tuition and fees that they pay.
These essential changes for students and faculty, where they are not in effect already, will begin the process of providing an environment for students that is more considerate and will help to provide some relief for student financial burdens. It will also help ensure, in addition to many of the concerns expressed by Black students specific to the need for diversity and beyond (at Predominantly White Institutions--PWI's), a more conducive environment for teaching and learning for all faculty and students on college/university campuses.