Money Board of Trustees to vote on 1.6% tuition increase By The New Political Posted on April 10, 2013 8 min read 0 0 434 Ohio University’s Board of Trustees will vote on the 1.6 percent tuition increase, a figure that surfaced from discussions within the Budget Planning Council to address the “balancing act” that is planning the budget. The Budget Planning Council (BPC) settled on the 1.6 percent figure after meeting three separate times and discussing, among other things, courses of action taken by other universities according to Chad Mitchell, the budget director. Both The Ohio State University and the University of Toledo recommended a zero percent tuition increase. “We talked about [those universities’] rationale for doing that. Is that applicable for Ohio University? If we were to do that, is that appropriate given the challenges that we face?” Mitchell said. In the end, those challenges derailed the possibility of a zero percent tuition increase, although Mitchell expressed satisfaction that the proposed increase was both lower than inflation and the state’s 2 percent cap on tuition increases. Among those challenges Mitchell listed needed investments in capital infrastructure, employee compensation and healthcare spending, which is projected to grow by 6 percent. Allison Arnold, who attends the BPC meetings as a student trustee, encouraged students to express their opinions on the proposed tuition increase to her before the Board of Trustees meeting on April 19 when it will be voted upon. “There hasn’t been a clear stance on [the proposed tuition increase] from students,” she said. “I would encourage students to reach out more to me and to Amanda [Roden, the other trustee] and to Keith Wilbur [the newly appointed student trustee]…It’s critical that students reach out to us before the board meeting.” Arnold implored students “to be proactive” by visiting the student trustees’ office or contacting them through Twitter. Arnold has not taken a stance on the proposed increase so as to gather more student and administrative opinion, while both student senate presidential candidates expressed aversion to the proposed tuition increase. “We stand against the proposed tuition increase,” said Nick Southall, the VOICE student senate presidential candidate. While Southall acknowledged the complexity of the issue, he maintained that solutions other than raising tuition exist. “It is important that our university does not backtrack when we face these budget issues, but I think going after tuition hikes as the first solution is not what should be happening. We should be looking at other things like cutting administration and looking at different issues in the budget,” he said. FUSS candidate Matthew Farmer urged administrators to “follow suit” with the University of Toledo and OSU by freezing their tuition. At the same time, Farmer recognized the pressures that the budget is under. “The most important thing is that if tuition is raised, we want to guarantee that administrative salaries will not be raised and [that there are] no bonuses,” said Farmer. “If [administrators] truly cared about students, they would not accept these raises in the current student debt crisis and financial crisis as well.” Farmer also called for more transparency in the budget-planning process. “The university needs to properly communicate why we need a tuition increase and what will happen if we don’t have a tuition increase,” he said. Elizabeth Sayrs, the Faculty Senate Chair of BPC, maintained that following OSU’s example would not be possible given the pressures on the budget, such as maintaining competitive faculty salaries and the other pressures that Mitchell named. “I will say that personally no one wants to raise tuition…but as long as the state keeps backing off from supporting higher education, there aren’t a lot of alternatives. I personally feel good that if we have to do a tuition increase, we were able to cut the size of that increase considerably compared to last year, and that is actually lower than the rate of inflation,” she said. Sayrs also mentioned the importance of financial aid and scholarships in maintaining affordability and easing the financial burden on students. When asked how he would address the issue of affordability if elected, VOICE candidate Southall said that he would lobby the state government for increased support of higher education and would voice the students’ opposition to tuition hikes to the BPC and key administrators. “We should be looking at other things like cutting administration and looking at different issues in the budget,” he said. FUSS candidate Farmer said that he would encourage more discussion among students about tuition increases and urge for increased transparency in the budget planning process. Farmer also said that in conjunction with initiatives from Student Senate, protests and demonstrations against tuition hikes are necessary. “We need to keep talking about the 1.6 tuition increase and make sure students know what it is before it happens,” said Farmer.