Your View: Questioning TCU ethics with increasing tuition

I entered TCU in the fall of 2003 and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. In addition to the time I spend learning from the outstanding teachers and students that TCU bring together, I appreciate the opportunities that I am given through extra-curricular activities. I am the president of the band, treasurer of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, a member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. I am thankful for the opportunities that TCU gives me – academically, professionally and socially. I am proud to be a Horned Frog and will be proud for life.Despite my unrelenting patriotism for our school, I believe there is a terrible flaw in the system. I realize that I am only one of probably thousands of e-mails that you will receive today following the announcement of the tuition increase. This being my third year, I have seen the same number of increases; however, each year I manage to put aside my frustrations and write the cost increases off as an investment in my future. I have no doubt that this year will be the same, but I want to at least express my feelings on the matter, although they will likely go unnoticed.

I do not claim to understand the higher workings of the university’s financial needs. Here is what I very simply observe: with next year’s tuition being $22,980, the cost of my education has increased almost 32 percent from the $15,740 per year when I started. At the same time, the value of my education has experienced no perceivable change. I am very supportive of all of the initiatives the university is taking to enhance the value and quality of education, but I am not benefiting from it – so why am I having to pay for it? As a business owner, if I raised my prices for goods or services without providing any direct value to the customer I would go out of business very quickly. TCU doesn’t play by the same rules as most businesses. Its customers (like myself) become so invested financially and with their time, that they have no choice but to grit their teeth and pray that graduation day comes sooner.

Deeper than just a financial issue, I believe that this issue is a question of ethics. TCU proudly claims to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.” Increasing costs to provide higher quality services to the customer is ethical. Increasing costs to keep up with inflation and other market influences is ethical. Increasing costs 32 percent while providing no direct benefit to the customer raises some concern in my view.

The decision of the Board of Trustees is, no doubt, in the best interests of the school. TCU is on course to be a world class institution. That costs money. I just want to raise my hand and remind the leadership of this university that there should be some balance between the best interests moving forward and the best interests of those already in attendance. I don’t know if a locked rate tuition or fixed increases is the answer. I don’t think it’s my job to solve the problem. It is my responsibility as a ‘citizen’ of TCU to bring attention to the problem and insist that a better solution be found. Realistically, a change at this point will affect me just as much as the beautiful new student center or the construction of new dorms. But if new dorms are in the best interest of future TCU students, then maybe a fair or, at least, more predictable tuition system is as well.

John Parker, junior entrepreneurial management and finance major from Elkhart.