… So let us agree that the UO protesters were rude and perhaps misguided. Youth is, indeed, wasted on the young. Does that make their concerns about escalating tuition any less valid, especially considering the optics at play?
After all, Phil and Penny Knight gave the university a $500 million donation a year ago. UO has a nationally renowned and (presumably?) lucrative football program. Michael Schill earns $798,400 a year, making him one of the highest paid university presidents according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s salary rankings.
And now, a few months after a proposed 10.6 percent in-state tuition increase, a new gift—and an anonymous one at that, replete with concerns about transparency and accountability—has added another $50 million to the pot.
Indeed, there are many factors contributing to escalating tuition at public universities, including escalating health and pension benefits, ongoing budget cuts at the state level, and a broken federal student loan system. It’s understandable why people should be grateful for donor largesse. Without private philanthropy, things would get really ugly.
Yet, it’s of little solace for many UO students facing a lifetime of debt, given the fact that it seems to be figuratively raining money all over campus.
And so rather than lament the impetuousness of youthful rebellion, it would behoove donors and administrators alike to ask why students are frustrated and address the divide that seems to be widening with every new mega-gift.