Students voice concerns to panel

About 75 students, faculty and administrators attended Monday night's forum with University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild, asking questions about a variety of university affairs.

Greg Kliebhan, senior vice president, and Provost Madeline Wake also spoke at the biannual event, which lasted an hour and a half.

Issues brought up at this semester's forum ranged from university speakers to tuition increases.

Wild said each year the university hosts different types of speakers, including those for commencement, from the Nobel speaker series and those invited by students and faculty.

He added the administration welcomes suggestions but must balance between the university's need for latitude and discourse and how such a public act will present Marquette to people outside of the university.

Another important issue the top administrators tackled was the rise in tuition.

"Increases are unfortunately a part of life," Wild said. "We are trying to control tuition. We need to have enough revenue to be the kind of school that you signed up to come to."

About 60 percent of net tuition is used to help run the university, according to Wild. The two largest contributors to yearly expenses are financial aid, which runs on about $4 million, and salary increases, which operate around $9 million.

However, he said, last year's tuition increase was the lowest among Jesuit universities in the Midwest.

Ashley Foy, a College of Communication sophomore, asked if there could be any way of locking tuition for each class out of fairness.

Kliebhan said this was done in the early 1990s but caused several problems. There were around 31 different types of tuition to manage, and the caps tremendously increased the incoming freshmen's tuition and made the university less attractive.

He said he wants the tuition to be fair to everyone and accommodate all students.

Brian Marx, a graduate engineering student, asked the panelists what they were planning to do about graduate student housing now that the Abbotsford Apartments will be converted to undergraduate housing.

Wake said the administration made the decision about converting the apartments without sufficient data.

"The differential in the monthly rent is a problem that I didn't have full understanding of," she said.

Dean of Residence Life Jim McMahon helped answer the question. He pointed out two options to solve the problem: putting some graduate students in university-owned apartments at the expense of the seniors and juniors or talking with local landlords about comparable housing options.

Either way, the solution has yet to be determined.

"It's the start of the process, not the end of it," he said.

Wild said the Abbotsford conversion does not mean the university intends to increase its class size. Wake said it is meant to give students a better experience on campus.

Vincent Bergl, College of Engineering senior, said Marquette's mission statement and Jesuit identity have recently become a source of tension because both can be used by opposing sides on the same topic. He asked Wild, Wake and Kliebhan about this new development.

Wild said there will almost always be debate on campus because universities are places of discussion.

"It's the nature of the beast," he said.

He added there will always be a certain amount of tension but the important question to ask is, "After you're done fighting, can we still do business?"

Other aspects the speakers are eager to improve include diversity, campus-wide wireless Internet installation and future fundraising campaigns.

Wild, Wake and Kliebhan said the issues are currently being addressed.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 22 2005.