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Debate over Ohio Guarantee continues

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Continuing student concerns surrounding the controversial Ohio Guarantee tuition model loomed over Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting.

In nearly an hour’s worth of discourse, Ohio University student Matt Farmer drew attention to what he viewed as glaring problems in the model’s structure.

Included in Farmer’s list were potential unsavoriness to prospective students, fundamentally unsound incentives to graduate on time, and an inability to properly benefit the student populations that are statiscally at a higher risk to drop out.

Farmer argued that groups with historically lower retention rates would be malevolently affected by the model’s implementation, as they would be subjected to a heavily staggered tuition rate in the beginning of their academic careers that would have traditionally been lower.

“As an upper-middle class white male, I should love (the Ohio Guarantee),” Farmer said, “but look around; we’re a relatively homogenous group here. We’re not necessarily the ones that should be receiving the majority of its benefit.”

Some Senate members challenged Farmer on the basis of not having a more viable alternative to the newly-ratified Ohio Guarantee.

“There needs to be a comparative model,” said Senate International Affairs Commissioner Hashim Pashtun. “There needs to be another solution presented to make the argument.”

Also present were Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell and Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding, who fielded questions from the Senate floor in an attempt to rectify the tuition model’s besieged arguing points.

Golding and Cornell explained how the state government’s cap limit of a 2-percent increase on tuition would combine with the five-year rolling average of the state’s consumer price index for education, currently at 3 percent, to form a state-mandated tuition increase limit of 5 percent for each additional year the Ohio Guarantee is continued after its originally scheduled implementation for the 2015-16 academic year.

Concerns raised by the Senate body, including those of Vice President Mary Kate Gallagher, as to what the fate would be of those with outstanding circumstances that prevent them from graduating in four years, were also addressed by Golding. Golding said that the requests of these individuals, such as red-shirted athletes or students with learning disabilities, would be delegated to an appellate board for further consideration.

Language in the Ohio Guarantee stipulates that the fixed-tuition model only applies to degree seeking cohorts who graduate in four years, or 12 semesters. This, Golding and Cornell said, is an added incentive to graduate on time with a standard course load.

“The model is not perfect,” Golding said. “This is definitely an art, not a science.”

The duo reiterated that the model was designed by the university with the students in mind, but certain concessions were required from all over the higher-education spectrum.

“We are committed to controlling the price of education, but just like everything else in society, our prices are rising,” Golding said. “We are looking for that balance.”

Speaking with the respect to the Senate not having already taken an official position on the tuition model, Gallagher replied that she didn’t believe that taking an official position was absolutely necessary.

“The board approved it,” Gallagher said.

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