By: JIM IRIZARRY
Throughout last Thursday night’s SGA debate, there was one prevalent theme that loomed over the candidates’ talking points. It was a theme that all IU South Bend students have heard a lot of already and will hear more of in the future: banded tuition.
Students had the opportunity to meet some of the candidates both before and after the debate, including both candidates for SGA President, Shail Bhagat and Stephen M. Salisbury. During the debate, both candidates gave their thoughts on the new policy.
“There has been research that shows that it has helped students, its intention is to help students,” Salisbury said. “The core issue with banded tuition is that our legislature is not providing as much funds to our public institutions. I understand that there are programs on this campus that do not allow you to take more than 12 credit hours. There is going to be a very specific population that is going to be directly affected. I want to make sure to voice their concerns, yet also educate on how this can be beneficial.”
Bhagat thinks that banded tuition will be great for 75 percent of the traditional student population, but does have concerns for the remaining 25 percent.
“The thing that happens is other courses only offer 12 credit hours. So for them, it becomes hard to take credit hours,” Bhagat said. “Three credit hours cost over $600, and twice a year, that would be $1200. That is equivalent to a person’s two-month rent. Not everybody would be able to afford it. I think there needs to be exemptions. With exemptions, it would be ideal.”
As Salisbury pointed out, with banded tuition comes less funding from the state legislature. With less funding comes more decisions on what gets prioritized with money from the student activity fund. However, Salisbury says that the more events that can be held on-campus, the better.
“It’s a challenge for many of our students to participate in events on campus,” Salisbury said. “We really have to weigh the amount of money we spend on on-campus activities versus the amount of engagement that we get from students on that. I also think that giving our students things that they can’t experience anywhere else—things like conferences, trips, professional development-type conferences or events—gives students the opportunity that they can’t get anywhere else. I would work to continue those types of events.”
Bhagat said that he has always voted for on-campus, but will push for more events that put the IUSB name on other campuses and other places.
“I have always given priority to events that are specifically for the betterment and educational purposes of IUSB students, and for the students who would go somewhere and represent IUSB as a whole,” Bhagat said. “I think that those kinds of events are important because that is how you can show that your students are out there and they can do things that other schools are doing as well. I think events like those are the ones that show the potential of the university.”
When asked for a closing statement on why students should vote for them, each candidate pointed to their vastly different backgrounds. Bhagat believes that he would bring a fresh and new perspective to the office.
“There are new opportunities and challenges that the university will face and it is time for new leadership to take them on,” Bhagat said.
Salisbury believes that the work he’s done as an older, non-traditional student over the last several years building relationships would be beneficial to the SGA presidency.
“I have been a peer mentor for three years. I’ve been involved in new student orientation. I’ve been a tutor. I have been on numerous committees committed to helping students achieve success,” Salisbury said. “I understand the challenges that students are facing.”