No more than six students appeared at the Montclair State board of trustees’ annual tuition hearing on April 20. Student participation in the hearings, which serves as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns before the board of trustees proposes a tuition hike, has dwindled since members of the Montclair State Students for a Democratic Society staged protests in 2012.
The board of trustees has not indicated what the tuition hike will be for the 2017-18 academic year. In years past, however, Montclair State raised in-state tuition and fees by an average of 2.3 percent, roughly $263, since 2013. Students Matthew Kelly, Heather Francis and Jonathan Rojas spoke on issues unrelated to tuition, and Samueldo Mompoint was the only student to comment on a potential tuition hike.
“I just want [the board of trustees] to…keep in mind the students that come from low-income families,” Mompoint said at the hearing. “I’m an independent student, so I pay for school by myself. There are different proposals that are going around such as our governor’s proposal that might cut success programs such as the EOF [Educational Opportunity Fund] program…that really helps students like me who need a little extra support. […] losing programs such as that, we lose not only the financial support, but also the mentorship.”
Mompoint added, “We do need support from the university in any way that you can, which includes financially making it more affordable.”
The tuition hearing was open to all students, but it was not widely promoted. The university let students know about the hearing through Red Hawk News, however, it was not promoted through social media and did not appear on the university’s calendar. Additionally, the Student Government Association (SGA) did not publicize the event and no SGA representative spoke at the hearing.
Rather than talking about tuition and fees, Kelly used his time to urge Montclair State to divest from fossil fuels.
“I went to this school for my future,” Kelly said. “By using this school to greenwash, in PSE&G’s case, and not divesting in fossil fuels, you guys are undermining my future. I know that you’re capable of divestment and you’re better than that.”
The Board of Trustees will vote on a potential tuition increase in a future meeting. Montclair State President Susan Cole thanked the students who spoke at the hearing.