Students react to proposed journalism school tuition increase

Michael Drummond/File

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UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism community members are waiting for the results of a Thursday vote regarding a proposed $10,250 tuition increase per year.

Graduate School of Journalism dean Edward Wasserman submitted the proposed tuition increase — a supplemental fee meant to address a funding deficit — to the UC Board of Regents in August, before alerting the community Sept. 12. Three meetings have been held to discuss the plan since then.

The first meeting was open to faculty and lecturers, while the second included alumni, faculty, students, staff and community members. At the final meeting, Academic Senate faculty members took two votes – one to decide whether or not to implement a fee, and another to decide how much the fee should be.

The Board of Regents will take the faculty vote into consideration when it reviews the proposal in November.

Much of the student body criticized the proposal, which would nearly double the cost of in-state tuition. Various faculty members declined to comment on the issue.

According to Wasserman, the funds from the tuition increase would go toward technological upgrades, faculty salaries, fundraising and career-services departments and other changes. Approximately 40 percent of the new revenue would go toward financial aid.

Jennifer Chaussee, a journalism graduate student and a member of the school’s Student Leadership Committee, said one major concern is that a higher tuition fee will diminish the school’s desirability among applicants. For many, the combination of the school’s low price and high ranking sparked their initial interest.

“I think we do very well with what we’ve got; we’re very resourceful, and we have excellent people,” Chaussee said. “No one would argue we don’t want improvements, but they’re not worth $10,250.”

In a survey taken by students in the class of 2014, many said career services needed to be improved.

Currently, there is only one career staff member serving about 60 students, according to journalism graduate student Susan Cohen.

Mark Kurlyandchik, a journalism graduate student in the TV documentary program, said that although some of the equipment is old, he and other students work with what they have.

“The general consensus is the fee is too high and it’s unfair to the students,” Kurlyandchik said, adding that he might not have chosen to enroll in the journalism school if the tuition increase had been implemented when he applied.

Many students also questioned why the deficit is suddenly a matter of concern. Chausee said raising fees for students should be the last resort and that the administration did not adequately explain why the deficit needed to be addressed through a tuition hike.

Wasserman is set to release a statement with updates within the next few days.

Contact Frances Fitzgerald at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @f_fitzgerald325.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that there were three options the Academic Senate faculty members could have voted on. In fact, the senate took two separate votes: first, to decide whether or not to implement a fee; and second, to decide how much the fee should be.