The Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution at its weekly meeting last night that supports the efforts of Stop the Hike, an initiative that aims to help keep tuition affordable for University students.

Jed Moch/Daily
Aria Everts, a student advocate for’ Stop the Hike’, an initiative to prevent tuition increases here at the University, addresses the Michigan Student Assembly.

Members of the initiative are calling on the University to freeze tuition, but only if the University’s funding from the state remains constant.

Engineering senior Ashwin Lalendran, who is working on the initiative, said the group formed after students discussed their personal experiences with rising tuition and explored possible solutions to the problem.

“It started with informal discussions, with personal stories of students in general in the current economy and the understanding of both sides: the University’s side and the state’s side, the belief that students can propose a solution,” he said.

The group began the campaign by formulating a survey to evaluate student perspectives on a tuition freeze. It can be found at tinyurl.com/stopthehike.

Though the initiative is unaffiliated with MSA or any other student group, its participants said they are looking for the support of different student organizations like the Interfraternity Council, the Residence Hall Association and LSA Student Government.

Lalendran said the best way to get the tuition freeze implemented is by “approaching the student governments, leveraging that infrastructure and presenting one unified voice to stand in solidarity.”

“And that’s basically what we’re doing,” he said.

Business Rep. Alex Serwer, who is working on the initiative and sponsored MSA’s resolution to support it, said Stop the Hike wants to implement plans that will not only aid current University students, but future ones as well.

“We need to create a sustainable infrastructure where people can carry our torch into next year,” he said.

Though the resolution passed 18-8-2, there was opposition from some assembly members.

General Council Michael Benson said that, though a tuition freeze seems beneficial on the surface, he thinks it would create future burdens.

“Our costs are going to have to go up; (if not), that means something is going to have to get cut to meet the budget, and we don’t know what’s going to get cut,” he said. “What we need to do is look at ways to reallocate.”

Several other assembly members argued that if money becomes an issue, students’ financial needs should take priority over physical University resources.

“Yeah, it’s true, some things might be cut, but human capital is the most important thing,” LSA Rep. Jason Raymond said. “If we don’t have the best and the brightest at this university, then what’s the point of having these great programs?”

Stop the Hike addressed the potential future problems of a tuition freeze in a viewpoint in yesterday’s Daily (Tuition increases must end, 03/10/2009), but the group said it thinks the immediate benefits would outweigh these future issues.

“A tuition freeze will allow continued access to higher education for current and potential University students, many of whom are pinned under the economic climate,” the group wrote.

— Asa Smith contributed to this report.

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