On Mar. 13, PA State senators Robert Tomlinison and Andrew Dinnimin gave a presentation in the Asplundh concert hall on their new piece of proposed legislation. This legislation, PA Senate bill #1275, if passed, would allow the schools in PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) to leave the state system if they so choose.
If West Chester did leave the system, the university would attain “state-related” status, like that of Temple University and Penn State University.
Reactions to this proposal are extremely mixed. During the Q&A session afterwards, the bulk of the questions asked centered on financial information. Students are primarily concerned about raises in tuition, which the senators claim would only raise by approximately $550 dollars per semester. Several students and faculty, however, refuted this, pointing out that Temple’s tuition is roughly $7,048 for a full-time undergraduate in-state student per semester, as opposed to West Chester’s $3,311 per semester for a full-time undergraduate in-state student. These figures do not include costs of housing and meal plans.
The senators also stressed that if West Chester left the state system, the university would gain much greater autonomy in terms of its own decisions. The argument here states the University is restrained by the current system, and by leaving the system, these restraints would be removed and the University would be able to function better. Opponents argue the loss of funding would be far more harmful than gains in autonomy. The senators repeatedly stated throughout the presentation and Q&A session that by introducing the legislation, they have stimulated conversation on a topic that has repeatedly been ignored, and have constantly asked for feedback from the audience on what could be done to improve the proposed legislation.
On Mar. 12, the bill was sent to the Senate Education Committee for review. There has been no vote yet.
Adam Farence is a third year student majoring in history and French. He can be reached at AF764146@wcupa.edu.