Tuition Equity: The Oregon Legislature is considering an important bill this week that would give more students a greater chance to go to college.

Tuition Equity

The Oregon Legislature is considering an important bill this week that would give more students a greater chance to go to college.

Senate Bill 742, called the Tuition Equity bill, allows Oregon’s undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at one of Oregon’s seven public universities—provided that they have lived in the United States at least five years, attended three years of elementary or secondary school in Oregon, and graduated from high school. The bill requires that these students begin the process of earning legal residency.

This is not an issue of illegal immigration, but of economic pragmatism. These students have grown up as Oregonians and been educated in Oregon schools. But compared to their high school classmates, children of undocumented immigrants face non-resident tuition rates three times as high. This effectively bars them from any chance at earning a college degree.

In supporting this bill, we uphold our heritage as a nation of immigrants. We advance Portland State University’s mission to provide opportunities for Oregonians. We bring these individuals out of the shadows and help them on their paths to become educated, contributing members of society.

Punishing these students for their parents’ choices is to turn our backs on a problem that is not going away. Without a college education, many will be relegated to low-wage jobs rather than the kind of careers that will make Oregon’s economy prosper.

The economic case for higher education is indisputable: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1 million more in their lifetime than a person without a college degree (based on a 40-year career). These benefits translate into greater tax revenues, a stronger workforce, and less reliance on social services.

Contrary to the complaints of critics, passage of S.B. 742 does not equal a handout. Children of undocumented immigrants are not eligible for state or federal financial aid. These potential students, mostly Latino and from impoverished circumstances, face the same challenges of paying for college as other students, but with greater financial obstacles.

For that reason, the Tuition Equity bill will not result in a massive influx of new students. The dozen or so states that passed “tuition equity” legislation report modest increases of students, from a handful to a few hundred new students enrolling as a result. The Oregon University System estimates that passage of this bill would result in an average increase of 15 new students per campus.

I am joined in support of this bill by many, including the presidents of UO and OSU, the Oregon Student Association, a majority of Oregon’s state senators, business leaders and others. In this effort, Oregon is part of a national movement. A federal version of the bill, the DREAM Act, had gained significant momentum—including support from President Obama—but remains stalled in Congress.

We can do better. We need not wait until Congress acts to provide fair, equitable solutions to Oregonians committed to earning a college degree and to becoming engaged, contributing citizens.

Wim Wiewel

Portland State University president

A public hearing for S.B. 742 is scheduled for 3 p.m., Wednesday, May 11, 2011, in Hearing Room E of the Capitol Building, in Salem.


Election timeline addressed

Thank you for your continued support of the ASPSU elections process. Without your interest, we could not have generated the enthusiasm and voter participation that the university had this election cycle.

 However, the Elections Board wishes to clarify some misconceptions printed in the Friday, May 6, 2011 editorial titled, “Fixing Your Student Government.”

 With the recently passed Constitutional Amendments, which were proposed by this year’s Elections Board, your concerns about the elections timeframe have already been addressed. Next year’s Elections Board will be appointed earlier, have a complete manual to reference, and now will not be constrained by the prior constitutional barriers that limited elections to between the third and fifth week of Spring Quarter.

 Once again, the Elections Board would like to thank the Vanguard for its vested interest in the 2011 ASPSU Annual Election. We hope that the increased student participation this year is a positive sign of things to come.


The ASPSU Elections Board

ASPSU supports SB 742

Like the rest of the country, Oregon is in the throes of an economic recession worse than anything since the Great Depression. The best way to ensure our future stability is to invest in our citizens. Higher education provides measurable benefits to an individual, our state, and the community at large. SB 742, Tuition Equity, will ensure that every Oregon student has fair access to quality and affordable higher education, regardless of their documentation status.?Higher levels of education correspond directly to lower levels of unemployment and poverty, so in addition to contributing more to tax revenues than others do, adults with higher levels of education are less likely to depend on social safety-net programs, generating decreased demand on public budgets. SB 742 helps lay the foundation for Oregon’s 21st century economy. All Oregon children in the K-12 system deserve fair access to affordable tuition for Oregon universities.? ?

Thank you,??

Ethan Allen Smith?

Associate Students of Portland State University?

MSA Videographer responds

I was the videographer who was kicked out of the MSA event during “Islam awareness week.” I went into that event with an open mind, having heard and seen things both positive and negative about Islam. So I went there to see what it was all about. Having documented several other events on video, this was the first time I’d ever been asked to turn off the video or leave. What transpired gave me a firsthand experience as to what Islam is about. Over the week or so that followed, I had moved on to other projects and work, but it appears as though several other folks just can’t get over this and continue to bring it up.

The author of the article in the Vanguard [“Muslim student group racially targeted on Internet,” April 26], Mr. Vinh Tran, had contacted me via my youtube channel, www.youtube.com/LaughingAtLiberals, and proposed an interview. He attempted to bait me into this by suggesting that I was unfairly ejected from the event. Knowing how brutal and biased traditional media can be, I chose to not respond. And anyone who read the article can now see why. First off, a Muslim is one who follows the religion of Islam. They are not a race. Secondly, there was no racial motivation in what I did. Mr. Tran has since attempted to back step and talk about third party blogs and websites that reposted the video, which apparently had racial slurs. I have nothing to do with what other people say, and his mentioning of those sites is buried in the article, whereas the video and actions of myself and the MSA were the primary focus of the article. Thirdly, Mr. Scott Gallagher was wrong in his citing of the “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (FERPA), as there is nothing in that document that is applicable to video documenting an event on campus. Perhaps he should have actually read the Act before citing it, and perhaps Mr. Tran should have done journalistic fact checking and read it as well. When I questioned both of them about this, they both declined to comment on FERPA, as seen in one of my follow up videos. Fourthly, if PSU buildings are considered private property, then why has PSU taken over $350,000,000 of public money since 2007? If PSU wants to give back that money, I will happily concede my public property stance. And last, but certainly not least, I wonder why Mr. Tran neglected to mention the intolerant and the threatening comments I’ve received on my youtube channel? I thought Islam was supposed to be about peace and tolerance? Several of those comments have since been deleted by their authors, however they are documented via e-mail to me from youtube, and I will make a video montage of them.

In closing, it appears as though the Vanguard missed the real story, that being the event itself, and, instead, attempted to piggyback onto the story that I stumbled upon.