Home Politics University responds to Student Senate presidents’ allegations

University responds to Student Senate presidents’ allegations

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Ohio University’s administration has responded to allegations made by Graduate Student Senate President Carl Smith, outright denying some of the allegations he made.


Smith sent a letter to The New Political that was published last Monday. The letter claimed that members of OU’s Budget Planning Council (BPC), specifically Vice President of Finance and Administration Stephen Golding and Provost Pam Benoit, silenced him and Undergraduate Student Senate president Megan Marzec by rescheduling BPC meetings so that they would conflict with their schedules.


“That the administration did not receive any concerns about tuition increases from student leaders on Budget Planning Council is no doubt the truth,” Smith said in the letter. “However the whole truth would also include that administrators caused several short notice scheduling conflicts for certain members that conveniently coincided with the meetings leading up to the Budget Planning Council vote on tuition increases. What I call administrative strategic scheduling conflicts.”


However, Katharine Quaranta, a university spokesperson, says that the meetings were rescheduled for entirely different reasons.


“The meetings needed to be re-scheduled because Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Golding was away from campus at a conference and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit had a personal medical appointment in Columbus,” she said in an email.

Neither Smith nor Marzec attended the Dec. 8 meeting, where the members voted for increasing tuition for the next school year, because of scheduling conflicts during finals week. The university said they were given enough time to voice complaints, though.


“In advance of re-scheduling the Dec. 8th meeting, representatives from [Benoit’s and Golding’s] offices reached out through email to the student leaders serving on BPC to inquire if they had a concern about the meeting time, especially because it was being scheduled during exam week,” Quaranta said. “None of the student leaders expressed a conflict or concern.”


Smith’s letter also made a mention that Marzec tried to send a proxy to the Dec. 8 meeting but was denied by Benoit and Golding. Quaranta said that this was due to Marzec’s continued absences to meetings.


“Megan Marzec had sent a proxy to two prior BPC meetings. Both Dr. Benoit and Mr. Golding spoke with the student who had attended the meeting as a proxy and the President’s Office followed up with Megan explaining that appointments to the Budget Planning Council are assigned by position. Since the budget planning process is cumulative, meaning that the information gained at each meeting builds upon the findings of all the previous BPC meetings, it is important to maintain consistency in membership and representation.”


The university also denied that Smith tried to set up a meeting between student governments and President Roderick McDavis over college affordability, as he had claimed in his letter.


Last Wednesday, The Post posted Smith’s follow-up letter, which detailed how both Graduate and Undergraduate Student Senate would respond to the tuition increase. Called “strategic counter-enrollment,” Smith said that Senate members would contact “high priority prospective students” and distribute information to tour groups on campus about OU’s graduation and student loan default rate. Most notably, he said that Senate would use its left over funding to offer $1,000 scholarships to currently-enrolled students that transfer to Miami University, University of Akron or Kent State University. That last point could risk Senate’s funding if it goes through, though.


“These Student Senate funds are Ohio University funds entrusted to the Student Senate and intended for the benefit of Ohio University students,” Quaranta said. “It would be prohibited by University policy to utilize funds in this way.”


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