SGA, YAL officials voice frustration on increasing fees at UL

CJ WIlliams

  • Mar 12, 2019

Picture by LaShayla Lumpkins / The Vermilion

As the cost of a diploma continues to rise, student fees remain a continuing source of frustration for University of Louisiana at Lafayette students.

The most recent development is the #cutthefees movement, a protest from the local chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, who are expressing grievances with rising costs and a perceived lack of transparency as to where the money is spent.

“We are specifically protesting student fees to advocate for financial transparency and a conservative approach to spending UL student money,” said YAL President Kaleb Moore. “We believe the current student fee structure does very little to show where the money is going.”

The well-documented drop of state funding to public universities has caused a necessary struggle to cover costs. Due to state laws that strip schools of the autonomy to raise tuition on their own, Louisiana universities like UL Lafayette have resorted to covering the fund gap with rises in student fees, a frustrating loophole in the system for students and families who constantly have to come up with more money.

UL Lafayette does provide a breakdown of the allocation of funds on the university's website, but some of the language and categories are vague. According to Moore, YAL is advocating for UL Lafayette to implement a version of the “Ohio Checkbook,” which is a comprehensive, detailed list of that state’s spending. The checkbook is a major campaign promise of YAL member Rachel Lautigar’s current campaign for SGA president.

“I support paying for quality educations, but I do not believe that every fee contributes to students receiving quality educations,” Moore said. “I, as well as most students I’ve met with, believe that a more detailed report would give the students the information necessary for taking the appropriate action regarding the fees.”

Moore also said he and YAL are advocating for less responsibility on students to fund various university programs, groups and events that they are not involved with or aren’t interested in. Moore said the onus to find funding should be put on the organizations themselves, and that the burden shouldn’t be on the shoulders of every student.

Moore also acknowledged that the fees were passed by a student body referendum, but lamented the fact that most of the current student body was not involved, and called for current students to have a voice.

“I believe it’s in the best interest of the organizations, their members and non-member students to explore other means of funding such as fundraising, outside donations and individual membership fees,” Moore said. “This idea of individual responsibility rather than a collective tax for funding boosts passion and interest for those who are really motivated and willing to invest. It doesn’t disenfranchise the rest of the student body, (who) could potentially resent an organization it funds but doesn’t participate in.”

However, costly current university projects create a perceived lack of priority management on the part of UL Lafayette administration. These projects make the idea that the university is strapped for cash less believable for protesters like Moore. The current increase in housing, which was met with great opposition when announced, is an example.

“I believe that raising student fees without sufficient explanation is harmful to the students as well as the faculty,” Moore said. “Personally, it is concerning to me that luxury apartments and an amphitheater can be built immediately following the cuts in state funding … it only contributes to the disenfranchisement and frustration.”

Budget cuts show that Louisiana’s state legislature continues to put higher education at the bottom of it’s list of priorities for funding. A budding contentious relationship between students and administration at UL Lafayette has become the result.*

*This post has been shortened from the original to include only relative content

Louisiana Student Gets Invited to the White House - KPLC/KALB

By Drew Marine | 

Posted: Tue 6:18 PM, Apr 02, 2019

LAFAYETTE, La. (KPLC) - A Lake Charles student was invited to the White House to listen to President Donald Trump discuss higher education and free speech on college campuses.

“I actually got the invite via email, and it was in my spam folder. I guess Yahoo said that probably isn’t real. So, I’m glad I checked," said Kaleb Moore, a University of Louisiana of Lafayette political science major.

Moore was invited to the White House just a few weeks ago to hear the president talk about a topic he’s passionate about: protecting free speech on college campuses.

“Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great Americans like those here today. All of that changes, starting right now," President Trump said at the White House on March 21.

Moore was one of the multiple students invited for the work he’s done to protect free speech on ULL’s campus.

“I thought it was amazing that something we had been working on for months down here was actually noticed at the federal level," Moore said. “We had petitions to remove an unconstitutional speech code from the student handbook. The code read you couldn’t say anything distasteful or offensive on any of the university’s media, like the Wi-Fi.”

During Moore’s visit to the White House, President Trump signed an executive order that would withhold federal money from universities that infringed on students’ First Amendment rights.

“We will not stand idly by and allow public institutions to violate their students' constitutional rights. If a college or university doesn’t allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It’s very simple," Trump said.

Moore said to have seen the President talk about this in person meant a lot to him.

“To see that on the national level that they care about issues that happen right here at home, you know, on our public university’s campuses; it was very reassuring for me," Moore said.

Moore plans to graduate this summer and hopes to get a job with a non-profit that protects free speech.

Copyright 2019 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Excerpt: "Campus organization works to protect any, all forms of human life," The Vermilion

"The Pro-Life Cajuns Facebook lists the organization’s mission: “Through peaceful activism, sharing of informative literature, discussions, speeches and community service outreach, Pro-Life Cajuns promote a culture of life on campus and beyond.”

“We don’t want people to see it and write it off as an abortion-only issue,” said Kaleb Moore, junior pre-law major and public relations chair of the organization. “We tackle things like suicide prevention, human trafficking and anything that shows you how valuable human life is.”

 

Moore explained meetings for the Pro-Life Cajuns are typically centered around topics, abortion being the first this semester. One of the largest planned seminars, Moore said, will be on the issue of human trafficking.

During initial meetings this semester for Pro-Life Cajuns, Moore said the board members had each conducted sufficient research on individual pro-life interests, enough to assign a member to each topic they wished to present at seminars.

“We feel like we’re equipped to actually show people,” Moore said. “We actually have the knowledge and the skill to bring that to the people in the seminars.”'

 

Credit: Shane Manthei, The Vermilion, Sep 27, 2017

Excerpt: "Campus Political Organizations Seek to Grow Ranks as Midterms Loom," The Vermilion

"Young Americans for Liberty Vice President Kaleb Moore shared his organization’s updates and plans as well.

“We’re a pro-liberty student activist group. We seek to train, identify and mobilize students on principle instead of partisan politics,” Moore said, adding the club has a libertarian ideology “with a small L” and they are “a nonpartisan organization,” meaning they don’t align with a political party.

Last week, the Student Government Association passed a resolution piloted by YAL that proposes a language change to internet content UL Lafayette prohibits on its servers. Prohibited content is described as “distasteful or offensive” in the policy, and the resolution asks for a change to “obscene” as the descriptor.

The resolution gives the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) credit for the recommended language change, an organization that YAL worked with on the resolution.

According to Moore, FIRE and YAL are “completely separate organizations” that maintain communication with one another at conferences and over email.

“We like to brag that we’re the fastest growing pro-liberty student organization in the United States,” Moore said.

 

Moore mentioned the “free speech ball,” an inflatable beach ball on which students write messages on campus, as one of the spring semester accomplishments for the club. YAL hosted this activity earlier in the semester, providing an opportunity for students to sign the petition for the SGA resolution in addition to writing on the ball. He said he hopes to “enlarge” the ball and roll it around

Moore said the club hopes to continue activism for student individual rights on campus.

“There’s a few more things in the works, but I’m not at liberty to say those right now,” Moore said.

The organization’s meetings are on Thursdays from 5:30-6 p.m., and take place in different off-campus locations. Meeting locations are announced on yaliberty.org/join, and on YAL social media."

 

Credit: Melissa Watson, The Vermilion, Feb 6, 2018.

https://www.thevermilion.com/news/campus-political-organizations-seek-to-grow-ranks-as-midterms-loom/article_8a493178-0afc-11e8-9768-a35a4e2bda67.html

March for Our Rights

"The group spearheading the rallies — March for Our Rights — has planned marches in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington on Saturday, with sister events in seven other cities. The rallies are expected to be modest, but organizers hope to lay a foundation for growth in coming years. Speakers include conservative radio host and former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh at the Chicago rally and NRATV host Cam Edwards at the Washington march."

-Katie Zezima and Justin Wm. Moyer, The Washington Post

On July 7th, 2018, I had the privilege to join some of the nation's leading Second Amendment activists in hosting the Washington D.C. March for Our Rights.  Though the attendance wasn't that of other marches, the message was clear: the Second Amendment is here to stay.  The March was covered by the NRA, NRATV, Fox News, The Washington Post, LMT Online, and the Chicago Tribune.