By Cady Inabinett, Editor in chief
The Montevallo Board of Trustee’s Nov. 3 meeting saw the group discussing and voting on a topic close to students’ hearts and wallets: summer semester tuition rates.
Summer tuition rates will not change for summer 2024, staying at $335 per credit hour for in-state undergraduates and $700 per credit hour for out-of-state undergraduates. These rates are a $68 decrease from the fall and spring semesters for in-state undergraduates and a $137 decrease from the fall and spring semesters for undergraduate out-of-state students.
Board of Trustees chairman Todd Strange indicated that fall and spring tuition rates will be a topic of discussion at the trustees’ February meeting.
Strange cited inflation as prompting the upcoming tuition discussion, saying, “We’ve got things, other than salaries, that are going up. We all know about our healthcare. We know about gasoline, travel, lumber and all those supplies, so somehow we’ve got to continue to have a fiscally-responsible product.”
Strange brought fall and spring tuition up in relation to the board approving a preliminary 2024-2025 legislative budget request. All public universities in Alabama receive money from the state’s budget and must request the amount they would like to receive. For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the trustees voted to request $31 million—a 15% increase from the amount received in the current fiscal year.
The board voted on several other measures during their meeting as well. This included a policy allowing UM faculty, staff and students to request modifications to their UM email addresses. The policy aims to allow email users to use a name in their address that reflects their legal, preferred or professional name in addition to improving reader clarity compared to the automatically assigned UM email address names.
Under the new policy, email users will be able to request a new email name through a request form on UM’s Information Service and Technology’s website. These email names are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Changing a UM email name also does not change users’ UM usernames or logins, which will remain the same as initially assigned.
Pregnant and nursing employees were the subject of two other measures voted on by the trustees, who approved revisions to UM’s disability compliance policy and benefits and leave policy.
Revisions to the disability compliance policy included adding language that outlines that the university cannot discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth or other related conditions in accordance with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The revised policy also points out that pregnant employees can receive accommodations from UM, “unless providing the accommodations imposes an undue hardship to the University.”
Revisions to the benefits and leave policy, meanwhile, focused on lactation support. The approved revisions pointed out there is a lactation room available on campus. Access to this room can be requested through the Calendar Office. Additionally, the revisions added that employees must be provided a reasonable amount of break time to express breast milk for a nursing child for one year after the child’s birth and a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from public intrusion to express breast milk.
The board also heard reports from several campus bodies during the meeting, including reports from SGA President Colton Rodano, Faculty Senate President Dr. Catherine Walsh and Staff Senate President Aaron Mahaney.
In his report, Rodano emphasized increased student involvement with SGA so far this semester. Rodano pointed out that the University Program Council events have had greater attendance this semester compared to events last year. SGA election voter turnout was greater this semester than last year, according to Rodano—increasing from 238 votes last year to 321 votes this year. This means roughly 15% of Montevallo’s student body voted in the SGA election.
Rodano also highlighted projects that SGA members have been working on throughout the semester, including a project led by SGA Senator Linea Laniah Keys related to informing students about the blue boxes located on campus and a project led by Senator Aidan Peach related to traffic sign visibility on campus.
In their reports, Walsh and Mahaney both emphasized increasing collaboration between Faculty and Staff Senates. The two senates are currently working together on a project called It’s Swell Being at Montevallo!, which seeks to host events that encourage holistic well-being among faculty and staff members.
In his report, Mahaney also pointed out that Staff Senate is conducting a staff survey related to the merit pay system currently in place for Montevallo staff. Through this survey, staff members will be able to vote to keep the merit pay system or abandon it.
The Montevallo Board of Trustees’ will meet again on Feb. 16 in the Merrill Room, located in Reynolds Hall.
Cady Inabinett is the editor in chief of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies, caring for houseplants and generally just being pretentious in her free time.