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UND students seek deal to limit tuition

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota’s student government is offering President Robert Kelley student funds for a construction project if he agreed to limit tuition increases next school year to what’s already authorized by the state.

The administration declined the offer, which student body President Nick Creamer said suggests that Kelley would ask the state for a tuition increase beyond 3.72 percent.

In a letter to Creamer on Monday, Kelley said that “a tuition cap is something that neither Student Senate nor the University has the authority to enact on our own.”

There is effectively a cap already, and that’s the 3.72 percent imposed by the State Board of Higher Education, Creamer said. The Senate isn’t asking for a new cap, but rather for the administration not to seek board permission to raise tuition beyond that cap, he said.

Asked for clarification Monday evening, administration spokesman Peter Johnson said what Kelley meant is that ultimate control over tuition is with the board, not UND. The university may have some leeway now, but there’s no guarantee that it always will.

The administration also has not had a chance to review needs for the coming year to determine what the tuition ought to be, he said.

At stake is $2 million in student funds already set aside for renovation of McCannel Hall, which houses some student services.

Creamer said the Student Senate can direct those funds to other buildings so long as it benefits students. In this case, he said, it’s offering the money for a one-stop shop for student services at the Memorial Union.

Currently, the services that would go in the one-stop shop, including financial aid and the registrar’s office, are on the second floor of Twamley Hall, the main administration building on campus.

They’re not very well integrated, and getting help can be very time-consuming, according to the Student Senate bill that contained the offer to the administration. A one-stop shop at the Memorial Union would be an improvement.

Creamer said students like the idea of a one-stop shop, but it’s been pushed much harder by the administration.

Johnson said he thinks students have always wanted such a one-stop shop. Services were disjointed even in the 1970s when he attended UND.

The vote in the Student Senate on Sunday was unanimous with 19 votes for and 2 abstentions.

The bill includes a provision to seek an audit of the administration for misuse of student fees if it raises tuition beyond 3.72 percent.

Kelley said in the letter to Creamer that, given the Senate’s decision, he will seek other funding options but he doesn’t expect any of them to be ideal.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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