Photo: University of Puerto Rico protests continue
The bubbling pot that was the University of Puerto Rico for the last three days has once again boiled over as protests were started up again over an $800 fee caused the students’ tuition to jump more than 50 percent.
Though many thought the arrests and injuries were coming to an end after the protest stopped while the interim president was being put in place, they were wrong.
The $800 fee was added in response to the school’s budget being cut by $200 million.
“It is the same situation that many universities in the United States are facing,” said interim president Miguel A. Muñoz. “Our budget is about $1 billion, and we have been cut about $200 million. We need the $800 fee to cover the deficit, and our tuition is so low, $51 a credit, that it’s almost a gift.”
But while the tuition at UPR is much lower than schools on the mainland, the island’s population is also poorer than the U.S., with two-thirds of the students having incomes low enough to qualify for Pell grants.
It is estimated that at least 5,000 of the university’s students could not pay their fee this semester, and the school admits that less than 54,000 students now attend this semester as opposed to 60,000 the previous semester.
Muñoz however, claims the drop is due to instability and not the fee, saying, “As a parent, you don’t want to send your son, your daughter to a campus where you see so many protests, and police.”
A number of students like René Vargas, a law student representing the student body on the board of trustees, were rather angry to see that police had been called to the campus in the first place.
“As a parent, you don’t want to send your son, your daughter to a campus where you see so many protests, and police,” she said. “The university’s intransigence and refusal to talk to students has worsened the whole situation. The students presented a 200-page document suggesting alternatives and ways to increase revenues, and the trustees have not even been willing to look at it.”