SCSU art students seek tuition increase

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The Gallery Vault, in St. Cloud

Most stories you hear these days regarding tuition involves students picketing and protesting to either lower or freeze the costs of their tuition. Well not so at St. Cloud State University.

In fact, a group of art students have submitted a petition asking their university to increase tuition… by $2.40.

Why? To save a student-run gallery in downtown St. Cloud. Last year three students – Sara Larson, Blake Weld and Chalyn Day – applied and received a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board to open up the space, called the “Gallery Vault.” The grant funded the operation from September 2010 – January 2011, with program-based tuition (from the student exhibition budget) funding its operation through May 2011.

Now the students want an increase in their program-based tuition to keep it open. Chalyn Day says the off campus space allows students to interact with the community, as well as local youth and other artists.

Continuing to keep the gallery open gives students first hand experience with how a gallery is run and operated. Students take there own initiative outside of class to make this space available to the public; this allows students to develop independence as artists and prepare them for a motivated career. Interaction with the community allows students to converse with patrons of the arts and prepares them for future relationships. We feel the experience and knowledge acquired by students greatly outweighs the monetary cost.

The cost of running the gallery amounts to $14,000, between rent and utilities. The $2.40 increase, multiplied by 5,000 students, would cover $12,000, with the remainder coming from the already established student exhibition budget.

According to David Sebberson, the Chair of SCSU’s Art Department, the university’s budget advisory committee is currently scheduled to hear the proposal to increase tuition $2.40 on April 7.

The SCSU Student Government will hear and vote to endorse or not endorse all tuition and fee increases. This will happen before or during the first week of May. The Student Government has a history of endorsing increases if the students affected by the increase support it.

Sebberson says the MnSCU Board of Trustees must approve all tuition rates, an action which normally takes place during the summer. Historically, he says, the Board has supported proposals for program-based tuition, since they cover program-specific costs that normal tuition wouldn’t reasonably be expected to cover.

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