Tuition increase will pose challenges for student

Wearing a blue Montana State University (MSU) hoodie and an MSU basketball cap, Sean Weber has been involved in various roles on campus.

Weber was a student supervisor at the MSU Alumni Foundation, a resident advisor for MSU Residence Life and the president of the Chinese Culture Club, to name a few. Despite his commitment, Weber is at risk of dropping out in the face of the looming possible 21 percent tuition increase.

Weber, 24, has been involved with various initiatives on campus. In the past, he has lobbied for the renovation of Romney Hall in Helena and has taken on a role within the Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU). Weber’s connection with MSU runs long in his family.

From Palmdale, California, Weber is second generation MSU student.

“My father was MSU class of ’80 and I visited [MSU] often growing up,” Weber said with a smile, explaining proudly that his father gave him the cap he wore when he was in middle school. “It seemed like an adventure.” Weber enrolled at MSU five years ago to pursue a degree in international relations with a minor in Chinese studies.

To Weber, MSU was an affordable alternative to universities in California.

“Being from a state where tuition is high, even for an in-state resident in California,” Weber said, “MSU was an affordable university that provided a high-quality education.”

However, since the tuition increase was proposed, Weber has signed up to take five summer classes in order to graduate before the increase is added on.

“I split tuition between myself and my father,” Weber said. “It would be difficult to afford [tuition] without significant help.”

While lobbying for Romney Hall in Helena, Weber met with Gov. Steve Bullock twice to advocate against the tuition hike for the repercussions it would have on in-state students.

“I fought really hard to stop it from happening,” Weber said.

The second youngest of five children, Weber will be the first to graduate with a college degree in his family. Closely behind is his youngest sister, who is currently attending MSU to pursue a degree in environmental studies.

Being fluent in Mandarin, Weber hopes to pursue a career in international law in the future. His interests in Mandarin and Chinese studies were an influence of his Chinese friend in high school, who had attempted to teach him the language.

Weber has since headed the Chinese Culture Club at MSU, whose mission is to connect with “Chinese natives to bring the culture of China to Bozeman through the arts, literature, food and more,” according to the club’s website.

On the other hand, his interest in international relations was an influence of his father, who has an affinity for travelling and collects flags from all over the world.

“Whatever flag it is, he knows it and has it in his office,” Weber said. These same interests were instilled in Weber as a child.

“Sean is an incredible friend who is relatable and passionate in all aspects of his life,” said Kylar Stevens, Weber’s close friend. “He has no difficulty connecting with you no matter your background or your interests.”

A passionate student who has embodied MSU spirit in every sense, by advocating for others and promoting the university, Weber is but one example of many students MSU would be at risk of losing at the cost of the looming tuition hike.

– edited by Virginia Holst

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