Generosity: It’s the symbol of our university, and its representation is everywhere — even in Loyola’s crest.
We see the crest, which depicts two wolves and a kettle, so frequently that many of us see right through it. It seems as though members of Loyola’s administration might, too.
The story behind Loyola’s crest can inform our response to the 4 percent tuition increase for the 2016-17 academic year, which was announced by interim President John Pelissero Feb. 8.
Here’s a refresher on the story.
Centuries before the founder of the Society of Jesus was born, Saint Ignatius’ ancestors were so well-off that they put out their extra food for wild animals after family members, servants and soldiers had eaten.
A carving of two wolves eating out of a cauldron stands above the main entrance of Saint Ignatius’ family home to celebrate this generosity, according to Loyola’s website. To honor this legend and Saint Ignatius’ work, Loyola University Chicago took up the image of the wolves and kettle as its crest.
With about 65 percent of Loyola’s budget coming from tuition and fees, as The PHOENIX reported last November, being a generous tuition-dependent university isn’t going to be easy, but generosity comes in many forms.
The price of our tuition is suspect when compared to the social justice values Loyola preaches, but so is the university’s lack of transparency and its refusal to receive significant student input on administrative matters, especially those which directly impact students.
In 10 years, Loyola’s tuition has almost doubled — from $23,900 in 2005-06 to $39,130 in 2015-16, as previously reported by The PHOENIX.
As if a near 50 percent markup in 10 years weren’t bad enough, next year’s incoming freshmen will break the $40,000 mark. Incoming freshmen will pay $40,700 with sophomores paying $40,695; juniors, $39,728; and seniors, $38,792, as reported by The PHOENIX Feb. 9.
In addition to the 4 percent tuition increase, the cost of on-campus housing will increase 2.5 percent. The increase might seem small, but taking out more loans and paying more interest quickly adds up. Seventy percent of college students in the United States already graduate with debt, according to Edvisors.com, a website about paying for college.
All hope is not lost, however, and we don’t want to be ungenerous in our assessment of the university.
Loyola isn’t a complete miser.
Of the 2013 first-year class, 96 percent received financial aid to offset the burden of paying for college, and the university continues to grow its $500 million endowment to provide more scholarships for students.
Still, it’s hard to swallow a 4 percent tuition increase without gagging a little, especially because we aren’t being told how or why the university makes these decisions.
The university might very well be in desperate need of a tuition increase. It could be in need of an even larger tuition increase. But most students don’t know why tuition was increased or what the financial state of the university is with any sort of certainty, because the university made the decision to increase tuition before consulting students.
Sure, a group of student leaders were called to a meeting the week before Pelissero announced the increase, as previously reported by The PHOENIX. The 10 students represented various groups throughout the university including Residence Life and the Student Government of Loyola Chicago.
The meeting was called to inform students of the increase and hear their concerns about an issue that had already been finalized.
The students cited concerns about MAP-receiving students, retention rates and Loyola’s financial security, but ultimately, Loyola’s decision was made. Tuition was set to increase, and students can’t explain with authority why.
Student leaders shouldn’t hear about changes the week before they are put into place, and the rest of the student body shouldn’t be blindsided the day a tuition increase is announced.
The meeting was too little, too late and quite frankly, a slap in the face to any students who care about Loyola and the price of their college education.
Although we want to believe that no one hikes up tuition just for the heck of it, we also can’t say with any certainty that this doesn’t happen, and that’s wrong.
We need transparency and real student involvement in major decisions such as tuition increases. We need to have more control over our tuition dollars because Loyola is our university. Yes, perhaps tuition has to increase and there might not be an alternate path. But there are a lot of savvy students here who might see a way to save money without having to raise tuition or cut funds from popular programs.
To be generous is to give more of something. Sometimes that something can be money, but other times, it can mean information and time.
Anyone who wishes to should be able to clearly understand the financial health of this university and the reasons for this tuition increase. Let students get involved in the process and it might even make administrators’ jobs easier— unless those administrators have something to hide.