By Brooke Moody–
Earning a college degree is for the birds – or in this case, dogs – according to Kentucky legislators who passed Senate Bill 12, 57 to 35. Students across the state should be outraged.
SB 12 debuted in the Senate on Jan. 5 as a dog ownership bill, but it was revised to abolish and replace U of L’s Board of Trustees.
What do dogs have in common with university governance? Nothing, but the shifty dealings of the governor’s lapdogs could spell the end of U of L’s accreditation.
Last month, U of L’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, put U of L on probation due to Bevin’s June dismantlement of the board, which violated SACS standards of fair process and freedom from undue political influence. Probation is the last step from loss of accreditation.
It’s a good thing Kentucky politicians rushed a bill to abolish the current board without due cause and transfer authority to a 10-member board appointed by the governor. Oh wait, that kind of sounds like political influence.
If you’re a Kentucky student and aren’t alarmed by these actions, then you don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Loss of accreditation means degrees would lose their value, federal financial aid would cease, U of L athletics couldn’t play in the NCAA and credits wouldn’t transfer.
Over 21,000 students would have expended years of hard work and thousands of dollars for nothing. Faculty and staff would be affected as well.
Prior to the passage of the bill, U of L expected to receive a letter from SACS this week detailing how to reverse the damage. Instead of waiting for SACS, legislators threw conventional wisdom out the window and rushed SB 12 into enactment.
To worsen the grave situation, section six of SB 12 declares an emergency to pass the bill due to the economic effects of higher-ed governance. Sure, past administrators at U of L have made inappropriate decisions regarding U of L finances. But what about the economic impact students have as residents of the state?
A loss of accreditation would result in U of L becoming a deep, dark money pit. Students would be buried in growing debt, with no financial aid and the costs of possibly starting over at another institution. Thousands of the state’s most educated citizens would be delayed in entering the job market, purchasing houses and other means of investing in the state economy.
The passage of SB 12 demonstrates a disregard for students’ efforts for a college degree, instead pursuing a political agenda. Students across the state need to recognize their rights and efforts being diminished as well.
Past administrators’ choices, the governor’s desires and deep partisanship caused the passage of SB 12, but it will be students who foot the bill.