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ESC Makes A Stand Against Pointlessly Raising Tuition

Yesterday evening, Engineering Student Council met for the first live-streamed meeting of the semester. Punctuated as it was with small reminders or instructions on correct ways to engage in the meeting, the majority of the session dealt with a proposal originating in Columbia College Student Council and broached by VP for Campus Services Scott Wright in his standing meeting with ESC President Richa Gode.

Rising Tuition, Rising Tempers

President Gode met recently with Scott Wright, who proposed adding $600 to semesterly tuition in order to provide textbooks, lab fees, and any other required purchases (e.g. webassign) to students for “free.” Wright supposedly calculated this number from the average costs required to fully purchase all required and recommended textbooks for a student. The average comes out to somewhere between $600 and $1000, and so Columbia would be able to provide textbooks to all students through institutional pathways.

Now there are clearly many downsides to such a proposal, which ESC ruthlessly picked apart. Representative after representative, from seniors to newly inducted freshmen, commented that they have never spent anywhere near $600 on textbooks and lab fees, preferring to use rentals, library books, or, most commonly, free pdfs. The $600 semesterly fee would just add a large increase to tuition for everyone, regardless of whether they pay full price for textbooks and supplementary materials or not. This is without mentioning the burden placed upon students whose tuition is not sufficiently covered by financial aid already.

These textbooks would not even be owned by the students. That is, the textbooks would most likely be returned to Columbia and then handed to the next class. This not only defeats the purpose of buying every textbook for full price—as opposed to renting—but it prevents students from utilizing older textbooks as reference materials. As one member stated, returning the textbooks for which you paid $600 is just “the university making a profit.” Another member brought up the fact that many professors write their own textbooks, with the implication being that professors will be making a profit off of the university buying their books each year for full price instead of allowing students to gather materials at their own cost.

The consensus, though qualified by the freshmen members of the council, was that such a fee might be useful—if lowered—for freshmen students who undergo the Core and who may not have the connections yet to attain free academic resources. This would jive more with the CC half of the proposal, with CC students receiving their LitHum textbooks, for example, from the university as paid through their tuition. Some freshmen members commented, however, that they do not pay full price for their textbooks and do not know anybody who does so. The consensus remained that the tuition hike may be worthwhile for some students, if lowered.

Miscellany and Updates

  • The Columbia Vegan Society complained recently to CCE about an event that included pizza as the sole food item. CCE surrendered to this activism and will now include vegan options. ESC has determined to do the same, as well as including those who are gluten-free.
  • President Gode discussed the placement of “recycling bags” in those dorms which do not already have recycling bins available.
  • According to Dean Boyce, faculty will be undergoing workshops regarding diversity and implicit biases. The consulting firm which will run these workshops attempted to gather data about this topic from undergraduates, but are not allowed to as they were not given permission. Instead they will be surveying grad students, which, while not ideal, is not horrible.
  • ESC has always had problems with their website and domain providers, almost never consistently maintaining a functioning website. When trying to activate the new domain recently, ESC accidentally activated the old 2017 website instead. They can not figure out how to fix this, and are looking into hosting a new site under the Columbia domain. CCSC will be approached about this, since the CCSC website is nice looking, functional, under a Columbia domain, and, presumably, consistently active.

textbooks via Flickr

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1 Comment

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The problem is that tuition keeps going to support an ever growing bureaucracy. Most of the new space of the past half century has been for offices, not classrooms. We need MOOCs!

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