Lake Superior State University joined 14 of its sister institutions in testifying before the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee at the State’s capital. The panel met March 1 as part of the budget appropriation process for fiscal year 2019.
He also responded to questions and concerns from the Michigan Legislature about sexual assault and free speech.
“LSSU has reaffirmed its resolve to ensure that every member of our campus is safe and protected from harassment and sexual assault,” said Mitchell. “Likewise, LSSU has been and continues to be a place where all members of the campus community are receptive to and respectful of speakers from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”
Mitchell then requested that the subcommittee recommend an increase in the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver.
“On behalf of LSSU’s Native students, who account for almost 10% of the student body, we urge you to continue adding additional resources to support their quest to achieve an associate or bachelor’s degree and become part of a talent pool that is ‘pure Michigan’,” he said in his testimony.
Mitchell noted that the program – which is legally an extension of treaty rights – has only had two very modest increases in more than 20 years.
Mitchell also appealed to the panel to reinstate the original formula for funding the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP). The initiative provides eligible students with tuition at any community college and the four rural public universities that also serve as community colleges — Lake State, Ferris, Northern and Michigan Tech.
Last year the formula was changed to fund only three times the average in-district tuition of community colleges. The new formula yields $330 per credit-hour, $155 less than the actual per credit fee at LSSU, requiring a student to pay $3,720 per year.
Mitchell quoted a letter written by first-year TIP student, Megan Rose from West Branch.
On behalf of the 236 TIP students at LSSU who are doing so well and need a setting like Lake State to excel, please honor the original intent of the TIP program and pay the true tuition rate, not a manufactured rate tied to community colleges that serve a different purpose and have a different mission.
Megan Rose, West Branch
Mitchell concluded his testimony saying, “Lake State is a very special university. Our location in the Eastern Upper Peninsula with its pristine natural beauty, a stone’s throw from the bridge to Canada, the largest percentage of Native American students among Michigan’s public universities are distinct strengths. LSSU can and should be a driver of economic development and cultural vibrancy consistent with our mission and founding slogan, ‘Enter to Learn; Go forth to Serve’.”
“As a native of Ishpeming, I know that Yoopers are resilient, determined, clever, and not afraid to work a little harder for what we want and need,” Mitchell added. “Higher education will need this spirit and grit to thrive in the future. We’re Lakers who enter to learn and go forth to serve!”
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