Connecticut State College and University System (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian’s decision to increase tuition at our community colleges and state universities is a slap in the face to people who are going to college on a budget. What’s worse is that he made the announcement in the middle of the system’s spring break. Ojakian knows that if the tuition increase is announced while class is in session, students would hear about it and action will be taken almost immediately by students and the faculty unions.
Proper leadership is required to manage a system of higher education, and Ojakian is clearly not the “leader” CSCU needs. In 2011, Ojakian, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief of staff, wrote the policy that merged the Connecticut Community Colleges (CCC) and the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) into CSCU.
Since Ojakian executed Malloy’s order, the system has been through two full-time presidents, tuition has gone up, and enrollment has gone down. In hopes of fixing the system and instilling some hope in the hearts of angry faculty and students, Ojakian was tapped by Malloy to be CSCU’s third fulltime president, with the long-term goal of addressing the system’s critically important issues. This tuition increase has completely erased all of the progress Ojakian has made in the past, including a recent hiring freeze.
Also, as State Sen. Toni Boucher has pointed out, Ojakian said in the past that he will not “balance the state’s financial burden on the back of our students.” By increasing tuition 5 percent, he’s doing just that, and is going back on his word. This is another classic example of government saying one thing and doing another, and should not be a surprise coming from the Connecticut establishment political machine.
I’m frankly disgusted by this fear-filled, backwards decision by Ojakian, and I’d like to ask CSCU students to remain vigilant in the face of this abusive administration. I’d also like to ask students of the University of Connecticut, who are facing a progressive tuition increase over five years, to stand in solidarity with their sister system. Collectively, all of the students together can say to the state, “Enough is enough.”
Mike LaPorte, 21, of Glastonbury, is a 2015 graduate of Manchester Community College, is currently a junior at the University of Connecticut, and a Senator-elect in the Undergraduate Student Government.