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Senate disapproves of planned tuition increase during first meeting of semester

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With no resolutions to vote on, Student Senate looked to the near and distant future during its first meeting of the semester Wednesday night.

The highlight of the meeting was the announcement of two Ohio University Student Union-sponsored rallies, one this Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Civil War Monument and another next Thursday during the Board of Trustees meeting.

The rallies come as a response after an announcement that the Board of Trustees will be voting on a five percent tuition increase for incoming students as Ohio University starts its OHIO Guarantee plan. According to OU’s website, in the plan, usually called the “guaranteed tuition” plan, “tuition, housing, dining, and fee rates established at enrollment remain unchanged for 12 consecutive semesters.”

Senators and attendees balked at the much-higher-than-normal tuition hike and questioned what the administration would do with the money. One example brought up came during a presentation by Jacob Jakuszeit, a sophomore urban planning major. He spoke about how Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Shari Clarke made budget cuts to the Multicultural Center by eliminating Director Linda Daniels’ director position.

“I think it’s very troubling … that when there are rallies, protests and sit-ins across campus, demanding more diversity, demanding more transparency, this was done in the dark of night,” Jakuszeit said.

Many felt that this was an example of the university mishandling its funds while it increases tuition.

“I would really be interested to ask, ‘What are you planning on using this five percent tuition increase for?’” Vice President Caitlyn McDaniel said. “Because you’re obviously not using it for the Multicultural Center or for bringing clean energies to OU.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi urged students and senators to attend next Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, but not before one senator tried to pressure him into telling Senate for what the money from the five percent tuition increase would be used.

The Facebook event for Thursday’s rally had 65 people planning to attend as of midnight on Jan. 15.

During the discussion section of the meeting, LGBTQA Affairs commissioner Ryant Taylor talked about a meeting the #HandsUpWalkOut organization had with President Roderick McDavis and Lombardi, where he, as well as other senators involved in the organization, attended. He called the meeting “productive” and said that they discussed their demands with the administrators, which included a required cultural competency class and bringing in visiting professors knowledgeable about diversity.

Also announced during the meeting were a website that allows students to give input toward the Comprehensive Master Plan, the appointment of Black Affairs Senator William Johnson to budget chair and McDaniel’s plan to relaunch RideBoard by the end of the month.

 

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