Editorial: Who’s really to blame for the tuition raise?

It’s time to voice my unpopular opinion — I support the tuition raise. 

Before you yell at me, hear me out. 

This past week, President Hynd addressed state lawmakers in Lansing about the 8.48 percent tuition raise that he initiated this summer. 

In case you forgot or didn’t know, it violated the state cap. Oakland had to forfeit the $1.2 million of performance-based state aid it would’ve received had it stayed under the percentage.  

But, the loss wasn’t much of a blow, since Oakland will now receive $12 million more in revenue from tuition. 

When Hynd presented the general fund budget and tuition rates for the 2016 fiscal year at the Board of Trustees special formal session in July, he said this is a “propitious” time at Oakland. He was right. 

The 20,711 students who currently call themselves Golden Grizzlies are the most in school history. There are also the most undergraduate students (17,161) and “first-time at any college” students (2,716) in school history, too. 

Historically, OU has been extremely underfunded by Michigan, with only 17 percent of its total revenue coming from the state — the remaining is from tuition. 

Despite having the highest enrollment growth of Michigan’s 15 public universities over the past five- and 10-year periods, Oakland still receives the lowest amount of state appropriation funding per student. 

Therefore, the resources this university has are simply not adequate enough for the growth it’s experiencing. Because of the small amount of state aid given, tuition has become the primary source of funds necessary to respond and adapt.

Oakland is also cleaning up its own expenditures, according to Director of Media Relations Brian Bierley. More than $48 million of budget reductions have been made in the past 10 years.

Hynd has been criticized for stating that Oakland is a “student-centered” university and then raising tuition, but the funds from this raise are going towards areas aimed directly at benefitting students. 

According to Bierley, this includes increasing financial aid for students by 11.7 percent. 

Eleven faculty members will be added to improve Oakland’s student-to-faculty ratio, which ranks second highest in the state among public universities.

There will be more advisers to help students stay on track and graduate, more research support for both faculty and students and more career resources and funded internships.

The number of labs, specialized teaching spaces and classroom equipment are also going to be increased. 

Lastly, facility upgrades and expansion will also be made possible from the raise, including the expansion of the Oakland Center and Elliott Hall.

I understand the frustration of feeling like the money you’re paying is being used towards projects you might never benefit from, but if every graduate of Oakland thought that way, our campus wouldn’t be what it is right now. 

There have been several renovations and additions that we have gotten to enjoy that wouldn’t have been possible without tuition dollars of students before us. 

We wouldn’t get to live in a new dorm or take classes in a new engineering building. 

We wouldn’t get to play intramural sports under the lights on the turf fields or host the Horizon League outdoor track and field championships. 

We should take pride in the fact that we are students of a university that has continuously been on the rise for over a decade now — experiencing 17 years in a row of overall growth — and is at arguably its most successful and prosperous time in history. 

If frustration is what you wish to feel, maybe it should be towards the state’s lack of funding for higher education, which was cut by 15 percent when Governor Rick Snyder first took office in 2011. 

Despite increases in higher education funds each year since then, the total budget still remains $43 million below the $1.5 billion it was before 2011.

And, for the record, the Elliott Tower was a donation. Your tuition dollars did not pay for it.