Less For Your Money

There’s been a string of bad news coming out of UH—33 degree programs are scheduled to be cut or consolidated, parking fees will double, and administrators are getting laid off. Then, Thursday Robert Jones, the front runner to replace UH President David McClain in July withdrew his nomination, leaving the Board of Regents with such candidates such as M. R. C. Greenwood, who was forced to resign as provost of the University of California system because of favoritism and an ethics investigation. And finally today, news broke of McClain’s mass email stating the university has to cut $50 million per year for the next two years under Gov. Lingle’s new economic strategy. Whew. I’m glad I’m done with school.

As a recent graduate of UH (Spring 2008), majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in women’s studies, I’m upset to see the school declining so rapidly. Not that it was perfect when I was there.

Many of the campus’ buildings are in dire need of a facelift, maybe even razing some of them to the ground and starting over. But telling students that their majors might be razed doesn’t seem to make sense. 

Some of the major programs possibly getting eliminated: the Marine Option Program (which allows students to learn about marine biology, without majoring in it), music related Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s of education in curriculum studies (specializing in health education, physical education and special education), Master’s in dance and some semester abroad exchange programs. The university is also looking to fold the School of Travel Industry Management into the Shidler College of Business.

If these cuts and consolidations go through, it seems as though students in these programs will be forced to go elsewhere for their education, which in turn will affect UH’s already low graduation rates compared to peer institutions. Possible cuts to the Master’s in education programs may also add fuel to the existing teacher shortages in the state. [For more on teacher quality in Hawaii read our May cover story, "Do Teachers Make the Grade?"]

While there may soon be fewer programs offered at the university, parking will double from $3 to $6 within a year (or $191 for a parking pass each semester). Parking is horrible at UH. Horrible. You have to get to school early in the morning—even if you’re lucky enough to have a parking pass—to ensure that you get a spot before the two lots, or parking spots on campus, are full. And forking over $3, especially if you have class everyday can add up. Imagine when it’s $6 a day.

Street parking, even in the residential areas is scarce; park on the wrong side of the street or in the wrong spot and tow-happy guys waiting in their trucks will hook up your car before you even walk the half mile or more to your psych class. Add in traffic if you live on the west side, and you’re talking about leaving at 5 a.m. to get a spot and make it to your 9 a.m. class.

UH recently put in parking meters on some lots on the upper campus, but those are even more expensive at $4 an hour until 4 p.m.

With all the increases for parking, you’d think the university would build some more lots. Nope. Twenty percent of the new parking revenue will go to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs because the parking lots are on ceded lands (the money had originally been coming from other funds, but now comes solely from parking fees). The rest will go toward the parking structure maintenance backlog.  

Oh, and tuition is going up. UH is currently halfway through a six-year incremental tuition hike. This school year, tuition for a full-time student was $2,976 per semester. Next year it will cost $3,384 per semester and in 2010, when the tuition hike ends, it will cost UH students $4,200 each semester to attend the university. So, UH costs more, offers less. Welcome to the 21st century.