Protesting years of cuts to public higher education in Rhode Island that have caused rampant tuition increases, Occupy URI mic checked the meeting of the Board of Governors for Higher Education Monday night with a song.
While their tactics were lighthearted, the issue is a serious one. The Board of Governors recently approved a 8 percent tuition increase that will mean this September an in-state student will pay an extra $1000 a year, up from $10,400. Since 2008, said spokesman Mike Trainer, the legislature has cut some $45 million to the three state colleges in Rhode Island. But because the cost of an education is only getting more expensive, students are running up enormous student loan debt to pay for the cost cutting.
There was a brief moment of tension when Professor Scott Molloy, who showed up late, asked to speak even though he didn’t sign up to and Chairman Lorne Adrain asked officers to prevent him from doing so.
Aftewards, I spoke with URI President David Dooley about the issue. He told me that legislators seem to view funding higher education as “discretionary” because when they make cuts, tuition goes up and enrollment doesn’t suffer. He also said the state would be wise to invest more in higher education.