KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- University of Tennessee students facing an eight percent tuition hike next year are asking Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to give up his scheduled raise for the coming year.
As of Friday morning, 811 students have attached their names to the Change.org petition. With tuition costs expected to rise around $289 per semester on average, those students extra costs would just cover Cheek's raise.
According to the petition, the Chancellor is expected to make $22,356 more in the coming year, bringing his total salary to nearly $400,000. In a statement released Friday morning, UT president Joe DiPietro said his salary is "substantially" lower than the median for leaders of similar institutions.
"$22,000 is more than I make in a year working full time. Between that and student loans, I can still barely pay my tuition and my other bills," said signee Stephanie Dickey.
"This is ridiculous. If someone is going to get a raise, it should be the teachers or the staff. Or better yet stop all this construction nonsense," she continued.
The petition, which was set up by an electrical engineering student Andrew Doss, argues the raise is unfair to student who work to pay for school or take out student loans. Calling it "a matter of principle," it says "UT Chancellor should not accept a raise during a tuition increase when so many students are struggling to pay already."
DiPietro noted that Cheek's raise was based on his performance and "(g)iven his performance, the way he has advanced the university and the challenges we have given him going forward, I consider his compensation appropriate.”