Letter at length, March 25

Funding higher education needs to be a budget priority

While the United States battles the worst national recession since World War II, the Oregon State Legislature is simultaneously working to create our state's budget for the next two years. In these difficult times, all state-funded programs in Oregon are in danger of having as much as 20 percent of their budgets cut during the coming months. The Oregon Department of Higher Education faces this immediate danger as well.

Unfortunately, drastic budget cuts are not new to higher education in Oregon. Along with many other public universities across the state, the state funding of Southern Oregon University has not been prioritized for almost 20 years. This has resulted in a staggering rise in tuition and student fees, and therefore caused the accessibility of higher education to significantly diminish.

Until this year, Southern Oregon University has experienced declining enrollment during times of decreased state funding. If access to higher education is not prioritized, our university may no longer be a point of access school for Oregonians seeking an affordable college education, and once again our enrollment might drop.

If the proposed budget cuts move through the legislature, Southern Oregon University and other universities across the state could potentially see higher tuition rates and fewer course offerings. The Oregon Student Association and the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University are working diligently to help ensure that this does not happen. We must take the necessary steps to alleviate the impacts of this revenue crisis in order to guarantee the continued accessibility of higher education in Oregon.

The Oregon Legislature needs to find a way to lessen the impact of these budget cuts so that we can avoid another disastrous bienninium for Oregon students of post-secondary education.

Alexandra N. Amarotico

Director of Communications

Associated Students of Southern Oregon University

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