Protesters: High tuition, fees keeping University of Utah out of reach
A new holistic admissions process at the University of Utah won't do enough to diversify the school as tuition and fee hikes put college further out of reach for underprivileged students, a group of protesters said Wednesday.
"They haven't taken the time to talk to us. It's going to affect our communities the most," said Alexis Santoyo, of MEChA, a Latino student organization. "Public education should be public. It should be accessible to anyone who wants to be in higher education."
About 50 students and activists gathered outside the John R. Park Building on campus Wednesday afternoon holding signs that included "Equal Education for everyone!" and "No to cuts!" They decried increases that will bring tuition and fees to about $7,300 next year, as well as a new $150 deposit required of incoming freshman students after they are accepted.
U. officials say the deposit will help administrators plan by cementing students' commitment to the school.
"It's a commitment to show that you're coming," said U. spokesman Keith Sterling. Low-income students can get a waiver, he said. The payment will be deducted from students' other fees.
But Isaac Giron, a junior economics and sociology major, said requiring the cash up front is one more hurdle.
"I have a family member that just can't pay that today," he said. "That wouldn't have happened to him last year."
The U.'s new holistic admissions process, meanwhile, aims to take the focus off standardized test scores and grade point averages and take into account personal qualities, community service and creativity.
"Respect for historically underrepresented populations" is also a factor in the new process, President David Pershing has written.
But Santoyo called the changes a "band-aid," and they shouldn't take the place of a program that promotes minority enrollment with sponsorship and tutoring. The diversity-scholars program is slated to be cut drastically next year, she said.
"We know [the new admissions process] is not necessarily going to work in Utah," she said. "What we see in our community isn't reflected in what we see on campus."
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