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Friday, June 21, 2024

I'm starting to notice something here.

Apparently, the issue of a lack of advisers in UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has come up again - just days after a new technology fee was announced. The technology problem that should have been "remedied" by the technology fee was brought up on the heels of the Florida Tomorrow campaign.

The campaign, which is raising obscene amounts of money for the future while ignoring the present, turned our eyes away from a 5-percent tuition hike, which was supposed to be the most logical alternative to UF President Bernie Machen's proposed ,1,000 Academic Enhancement Program fee.

That fee was lauded as the panacea for all of UF's original financial ails, money from parents' pockets that Bright Futures could never provide.

Next thing you know, Machen will propose an advising fee - right before he discusses the lack of housing on campus.

Oh, Bernie, why must you beguile us so? The students, parents and teachers you have served for four years deserve better than this.

Oh wait, now I know, you want UF in the top 10 of a magazine that draws a lot of controversy for its overly mathematical approach to ranking colleges.

Loyal readers, consider what Machen did the last time he was a college president.

The University of Utah, his old employer, is not a Top-10 public university. In fact, it isn't even ranked anywhere on the list. On their profile, the Utes are listed as a third-tier school - out of four tiers.

The national average for in-state tuition is about ,5,500, according to a CNN article. The higher the tuition, the more money and "prestige." This year, Utah's in-state tuition is about ,5,000, while UF's is about ,3,300.

A university's endowment is a measure of how much schools can spend on projects to improve its prestige. Utah's endowment is about ,509,000 - about half of ours.

On Monday, members of Students for a Democratic Society were protesting Machen's potential investment in the war in Iraq. After all, a school with money from the war could raise its rankings even more.

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Florida, while being one of the most populous states in the country, also has one of the lowest tuitions. Even though those low prices are good news for parents and students, they provide lower revenues for universities, which must teach with fewer resources than universities in other states.

As such, Bright Futures makes public universities more competitive with out-of-state colleges and private universities, which charge more tuition and give more aid, but it is also a Faustian bargain.

Because the program is funded by the Florida Lottery, gamblers must first lose thousands of dollars of their own money for students to get a college education. If tuition went up, if more students qualified for more aid money and if people bought fewer tickets, that would form the perfect recipe for the scholarship program's collapse. That's why so many of the new fees aren't covered by Bright Futures.

And when U.S. News' rankings were released this year, UF slipped from 13th to 17th. If Machen couldn't do anything for a school ranked near the bottom of the barrel, what can he do for a Top-20 flagship state university?

Very little, if anything.

Vincent Gagliano is a sophomore majoring in physics. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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