New Student Regent to tackle tuition and fees
Sam Allen / Sun Star
In June, Governor Bill Walker appointed 26-year-old Stacey Lucason, a masters student at UAA, to the two-year student regent position. This position rounds out the 11-member Board of Regents, which meets about a dozen times a year to oversee statewide university policy and management through the UA President.
“I’ve heard repeatedly from administration and the BOR that while the budget gets reduced from the state and costs go up – that students can just take classes online, like that is a perfect replacement for an in-person class that’s no longer being offered,” Lucason said, highlighting some of her concerns.
“My undergrad major in philosophy [which was cut from UAF last year, despite having operating costs in the black] offered a stark contrast in the depth of discussion one can have when in a classroom versus when in an online chat room with people trying to get a General Education Requirement out of the way in the easiest way possible,” Lucason said.
Stacey said that at a recent Board of Regents committee meeting the topic of fees came up among the regents, some of whom expressed interest in learning more about them.
She supports the BOR being better informed on every fee college students are paying, even in classes. If just one or two regents got up to speed on the details, they could share it with the full board, she said.
“They need to know that kind of detail when they consider tuition increases for students,” she said.
Lucason is looking forward to her first board of regents meeting. She has been preparing since last year, as president of student government at UAA, reading meeting agendas and listening to public testimony online, as well as attending each meeting in person.
The first step was becoming familiar with university policy, a 4,000 page tome detailing everything from mission statements to where you can smoke tobacco on campus, according to outgoing student regent Courtney Enright.
Enright remembers being appointed days before the first meeting and being overwhelmed, but quickly fostered relationships with other BOR members, especially Jo Heckman, because they were both from Fairbanks.
“We traveled together often and there was a lot of downtime at airports and such, which allowed me to start getting to know her on a personal level, as well as professional.”
She also recounted how the intimidation and nervousness she felt in politicians’ offices quickly disappeared as novelty wore off and she grew more accustomed to working with them and understanding them as people.
Enright is most proud of her work on drafting policy to have a statewide grading system, still in progress, and being behind the UA composing a map of all the gender neutral bathrooms on all campuses. Other notable actions is she voted unanimously with the board to raise tuition 5% in February, following a $20 million funding drop from the legislature, and voted against the smoking ban given the overwhelming feedback she was receiving from students and staff on the UAF campus about the ban.
Lucason is pushing for more student involvement and a cohesive student government across all campuses.
While president, she helped foster student awareness, mostly within student government and oversaw student attendance of about 10 to every BOR meeting in Anchorage, and two elsewhere.
The biggest challenge and greatest focus will of course be on budgeting issues, she said.
Lucason will not be on the UAF campus until the BOR regents meeting in December, but says she may be reached by phone and email and can set up appointments.