Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is against the 100% Tuition Increase Proposed by Dr. Sessoms

With an economic recession around the world, skyrocketing exchange rates and loss of jobs the students at UDC were shocked with a 100% Proposal by President Dr. Sessoms (former President of Delaware State University)

The University of the District of Columbia, over the years has opened its doors to all students who strive to get a tertiary education at an affordable rate. The vision of the New President will however erase this reality at the University of the District of Columbia.Therefore,The USGA is against the 100% tuition increase proposed by Dr. Sessoms!

Washington, DC. Undergraduate Student Government Association, February 2009.

The student body at the University of the District of Columbia is faced with a proposal that will make or break thousands of UDC students. Several weeks have passed since Dr. Sessoms sprang upon the student body his proposal of a new UDC which includes a new mission statement and a significant increase in tuition. The USGA was not consulted by the president in regards to this increase. After three (3) presentations by Dr. Sessoms the student body was convinced that this proposal if pass will be detrimental to many students.

  On February 5, 2009 the Undergraduate Student Government Association in conjunction with the Student Representative to the Board of Trustees hosted a Student Body Meeting that emphasis the 100% tuition increase being proposed.  The purpose of the meeting was to allow the student body to let their student leaders know how they felt about the new visions and goals set for the university by President Sessoms.  During the gathering, students had the possibility to express their expectations from their USGA and it also allowed the executive council of the USGA to understand what their constituents expected from them.  At the end of the meeting, the USGA and the Student Representative to the Board of Trustees acquired a general idea of what the agreements/disagreements/concerns of the students were.  The executive council promises the student body to present these concerns to the President of the university and the Board of Trustees and represent them to the best of their ability.On February 9, 2009 as promised the USGA met with Dr. Sessoms in the small board in Building 39 3rd floor. Please see concerns below typed in black and the responses given by the President or his team in red:Agreements – Disagreements – Concerns of Student Body1)      Many international students will not be able to afford their education with the new tuition rates and have to consider the possibility to go back to their respective countries. The President stated that he is aware of the issues that the International Community will be faced with, however he emphasized that assistance for international students will be dealt with case by case. He also stated that he will work with embassies in order to get some assistance, because to his knowledge there are some embassies that will assist their foreign citizens who are studying in the United States. The Provost mentioned that they will be hiring an individual who will be responsible for finding scholarships for International Students and this person will work in the newly formed office called International Exchanges and Programs.

2)      Some students do not believe that the university will improve because of the new tuition rates.  In the past, tuition has gone up, fees have been added, promises have been made, but nothing has been improved.  Students are not confident in the new visions of the university. The President stated that he is new and that he was not responsible for the poor management that existed before him. He also stated that some individuals who were apart of this poor management of funds are no longer employed by the University.

3)      Students consider the tuition increase an “irrational act” considering the economic status of the country. Question was skipped

4)      13 million dollars has been given back to the treasury last year; this proves that the university does not lack financial resources; it is a matter of bad management.

President stated that this statement is not correct. He however agreed that poor management contributed to the conditions that the University was faced with.

5)      Why doesn’t the university try acquiring money from the government first?

6)      Why should students pay an increase in the tuition when the university lacks customer services, quality facilities?  Why not improve the university first and then charge money. The President stated that the University needs money in order to improvement the facilities and services.

7)      UDC is a land grant university; raising tuition would only defeat its own mission which is to provide an affordable education.

The President stated that the true definition for land grant does not include making the tuition affordable. For example he said Michigan State University. “I was given too options either to close it or to fix it” by Dr. Sessoms. Therefore in order to fix the ills of the University he is proposing a 87% tuition increase for Residents and a 100% tuition increase for International Students. He also stated that in actuality that one-third 1/3 of the student body’s population will be covered. The financial aid advisors in the meeting stated that they conducted an analysis (which will be given to the student body) which concluded that there is more money in the financial aid pool than tuition. In others words the 58% of student who get some form of aid, some or all of their tuition will be covered.        The USGA in this meeting asked if the Sub-Committees Board Meeting can be held in the University’s Auditorium. The USGA has been working diligent with Mr. William Kellibrew of Operation save UDC. We are involved in the planning session and we are advocating for internal and external support. The support we gathered thus far includes the UDC French Club, UDC Caribbean Student Association (CSA) and Howard University CSA, UDC Latin Student Association (LSA), UDC African Student Association (ASA) and the International Student Association (Both at Howard University and UDC). We are in the process of contacting nearby Universities asking for their support at the Sleep Out that is currently being organized by Operation save UDC and the USGA.The USGA is working with the trilogy and free voice to keep students inform. We are also scheduled to be on the UDC Television program to discuss the issues that this increase might cause and also some propose solutions. The USGA remained out the press because of lack of information in terms of the Dr. Sessoms vision. The Executive Council 2008-2009 headed by Racquel Layne wants to communicate the most accurate information to the student body. With new information and extensive research on the part of the USGA the three branches of the Student Government Association are working collectively to ensure that the students are heard and well represented. The USGA appreciates and supports the efforts of Operation save UDC. We will continue to work with this effort in order to get the most desirable outcome. The USGA is fully capable of advocating for the student body, our association is there to serve as the gap between students and administration. We are well aware of our constituents and we are working diligently on behalf of the students at the University of the District of Columbia. On Saturday February 14, 2009 the President of the USGA along with officers on her team will be strategizing in terms of getting International Press on the issue. The USGA has been encouraging international students to contact their embassies and press in their respective countries. So far the embassy on Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are aware of the 100% tuition increase and its effects on their citizens. The USGA recognize that we will be responsible for our own security and safety at the upcoming Sleep -Outs therefore we will be reaching out to members of the community to ask for assistance in ensuring that we are safe. We will also be taking donations to buy hand and feet warmers for the different sleep outs. Racquel Layne (President of the USGA) “The USGA is supporting all initiatives supported by the student body at the University of the District if Columbia. The student body has expressed their disapproval of the President’s proposal and we hope the solution will be student favored”“With Confidence, you have won before you have started” by Marcus Garvey. There are no struggles in this world that’s been fought without confidence. We will be victorious if we stick to the task ahead and erase any underlying motive that might obscure our judgment and ability to lead. The elected officers of the Undergraduate Student Government Association are here to serve the students of the University.“We are servant Leaders and Citizens of the World”

 For additional information on this press release (or for a sample or copy), contact Racquel A. Layne at 202-274-5502 (office) or 202-409-9334 (cell) or email her at racquel.layne@gmail.

 This was prepared by the Undergraduates Student Government Association 2008-2009