The Seton Hall Young Democratic Socialists of America (SHYDSA) have started a Change.org petition aiming to cap Seton Hall’s tuition increases at a maximum of 2.5 percent per year, according to a Facebook post from the group’s president, Adam Varoqua.
In addition to establishing a tuition cap, the petition aims to establish a more “transparent view” of expenses and how students’ tuition is being allocated.
Last April, Seton Hall’s administration sent out an email informing the student body that the tuition for full-time undergraduate students at Seton Hall for the 2018-2019 academic year will total $19,950 per semester, as previously reported by The Setonian. The cost for the entire school year was raised by $750 per semester, or approximately 3.9 percent. The previous year, tuition was raised by 3.5 percent.
According to a College Board study, tuition and fees at private, non-profit four-year institutions like Seton Hall increased by an average of 1.9 percent in 2017-18, after adjusting for inflation. This means that Seton Hall’s tuition increases are substantially higher than the national average. At Rutgers, tuition increased by 2.3 percent for the 2018-2019 academic year, according to The Patch.
Annabret McKibbin, a senior diplomacy and international relations major and vice president of SHYDSA, said that the group decided to establish the petition after looking into tuition increases at schools of similar size, location and endowment as Seton Hall. They also spoke to multiple other campus organizations to see if they felt the same about Seton Hall’s increases.
“What we found out was that the committees that decide on tuition increases and where that funding goes don’t give the students much transparency,” McKibbin said. “What we are asking for is a cap of 2.5 percent, which we believe is a very realistic number in comparison to schools like ours, and a reorganization of the funding committees so that we, the ones responsible for paying the tuition, participate in deciding where that money goes.”
McKibbin then said that what is most important about this petition is not the number of signatures, but that the administration knows that students are dissatisfied with where their money goes and how much they are expected to pay.
Essence Williams, a sophomore history major and treasurer of SHYDSA, said that tuition going up as much as it does is a hindrance to students who may not have an extra $1,000 every year to attend Seton Hall.
“Education is a right, not a privilege,” Williams said. “The exorbitant tuition increases lock students out of opportunities for higher learning.”
Like McKibbin, Williams says that whether or not the administration will listen to this petition, is yet to be seen. She said that regardless if they pay attention to this specific plea from the student body, a tuition cap is something that the SHYDSA will pursue until tangible change is made.
“I think of it like this: if my phone bill increases by 4 percent, with additional charges heaped on top for essential services, I would want to know why,” Williams said. “If my phone provider tells me ‘Oh, your phone bill annually increases without you knowing until it’s too late and also, all those other things you need will rise in price too,’ I would be upset. We want the student body to be just as concerned about the tuition hikes as they would be about their phone bill. It is important to hold the university accountable for the financial treatment of its students. Sign because it is your university, your money and your future.”
Janine Dayeh, a senior political science major explained why she signed the petition.
“I signed this petition because I should not be responsible for paying for programs and luxuries that I do not benefit from as an actively involved political science student,” Dayeh said. “I am president of an organization and my organization is denied additional funding because the University cannot allocate more money to student organizations, but isn’t that what the University should be supporting?”
Dayeh explained that she feels tuition money is spent on things that only benefit a small portion of the student population.
“The University created this entire new athlete “refreshment” station that only athletes have access too, which is not fair to the rest of the Seton Hall student body,” Dayeh said. “Also, while the IHS campus is beautiful and will promote University growth, It is not the student body’s responsibility to make up for the institution putting itself in too much debt.”
Dayeh said that while as a senior, it is too late for her tuition increases to be reversed, she is hoping that the administration makes a change for future Pirates.
The petition aims to have at least 500 signatures. As of Dec. 5, 362 people have signed.
Isabel Soisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.