The Young Conservatives of Texas have called on the University of Texas System Board of Regents to throw out a proposed tuition increase and require open meetings on tuition at all campuses, citing a violation of a higher education open meetings provision.
In a letter to the Regents, the YCT implored the Board to require the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, an appointed panel of administrators and students, to hold open meetings. The YCT says the TPAC is in violation of an amendment passed in 2011, S.B. 5, that requires fee advisory meetings be open to the public.
“The Texas Legislature shouldn’t have to tell a state agency to do the public’s business in public,” said YCT State Chairman Jeff Morris. “And it’s absolutely outrageous that UT administrators are using legal loopholes and trickery to hold closed meetings. We call on all regents to put a stop to this misbehavior immediately and make UT-Austin administrators honor both the spirit and letter of the Hughes amendment.”
Matt Flores, a UT System spokesman, was contacted after office hours, but said he could not comment since he did not have the appropriate information available.
Liz Farmer, Senior News Reporter for the Daily Texan, the UT-Austin campus newspaper, said she has attempted to gain access to the meetings, but has been denied by administrators.
The Daily Texan reported on Nov. 28 that TPAC’s meetings were not open to the public because the group only has the power to make recommendations, unlike the Board of Regents, which sets the tuition rates.
TPAC co-chair Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost of the University, told the Daily Texan he wants the tuition-setting process to be transparent, but the TPAC meetings are closed because members discuss confidential budget information.
The YCT also requested the regents throw out the current proposed tuition increase, which is the typical remedy for decisions that violate the Texas Open Meetings Act, on the basis the meetings were against legal regulations.
TPAC proposed an increase of 2.6% for undergraduates and 3.6% for graduates each year from 2012-2014, an increase of $127 and $560 per semester in the first year, respectively. The increase recommendation was supported by UT-Austin President Bill Powers.
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