DSA Protest at March Faculty Meeting
In attendance at the second faculty meeting of the semester on March 3rd were members of Bucknell’s Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) chapter who wore red in protest of the University’s recent comprehensive fee increase. After filing into the forum en masse, some of the members holding signs, others with tape covering their mouths, faculty chair Bill Kinney allowed the president of the DSA chapter a few minutes to address the faculty and administration at the meeting. Referencing the disproportionate effect that tuition increases have on financial aid-supported students and those that contribute to financing their education, the president of the chapter reflected on the absurdity of failing to relay the tuition increase announcement to students—the email was sent only to parents of students. Administration and the Board of Trustees alike were ridiculed in their unwillingness to disseminate information about how Bucknell’s money is appropriated and why some aspects of the university receive more financial resources than others.
The student concluded his remarks with a wry apology for his lack of education on the issues to which he appealed, reminding faculty and administration that this “education is getting harder to receive everyday.” Some students, experiencing financial hardships that are not adequately addressed by the university, work two or more jobs while trying to maintain academic and extracurricular commitments.
Bucknell’s comprehensive fee increase comes amid similar increases at other peer institutions. According to the College Board, college tuition has historically risen at a rate of about 3% per year. As college applicant numbers continue to trend downward and universities approach an enrollment cliff, institutions of higher education are locked into a heated competition to more effectively market themselves to prospective students. However, consistent hikes in universities’ comprehensive tuition, which make higher education increasingly unaffordable, beget the question of how these institutions are effectively embodying diversity and inclusion. Of particular concern are universities, like Bucknell, and peer institutions with similarly striking demographics, who are already struggling to attract students of color and ensure they remain at the university past their first year.