Ohio University's budget planning council voted to recommend a 1.7 percent tuition increase for next year, among other cost increases. If approved, a tuition increase discussed Friday night would increase costs for incoming freshmen at Ohio University for the seventh-consecutive year and more than $2,800 since 2009-10.

If approved, a tuition increase discussed Friday night would increase costs for incoming freshmen at Ohio University for the seventh-consecutive year.

Next year's increase would further increase tuition to 32 percent, or more than $2,800, above where it was for new students in the 2009-10 academic year.

In a closed-door meeting Friday, the university’s budget planning council voted to recommend a tuition increase of 1.7 percent for next year, according to multiple people present for the vote.

The resolution to increase tuition passed, but the vote was not unanimous, said Joe McLaughlin, an associate professor of English and chair of Faculty Senate’s Finance and Facilities committee. He said spending on men’s football and basketball compelled him to vote no.

“I made it very clear I was deeply upset with the fact every time we try to open the discussion of (Intercollegiate Athletics), it’s ignored or suppressed,” McLaughlin said.

Faculty Senate Chair Beth Quitslund voted in favor of tuition and fee increases with faculty and employee salaries in mind. 

If OU keeps its commitment to give more scholarships, pay off debt and raise faculty and employee salaries and benefits next year, its operating budget will increase by $17.6 million, according to the council's documents.

"Raising tuition is always an evil," Quitslund said. "But the priorities the university has, I don't see how we can pay for them without the revenue from tuition keeping pace with inflation at least."

The increases recommended by the council would bring the university $3.4 million, which would still leave OU with a large gap to address. 

The council is advisory and makes recommendations to OU President Roderick McDavis and OU’s Board of Trustees. The group’s meetings are not open to the public.

Post reporters waited outside the meeting to ask Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, the university’s chief academic official, about the recommendation. Benoit declined to comment, saying she had “another meeting” to attend.

Increase for new students

The 1.7 percent increase will apply to next year’s class of incoming freshmen.

Because OU has a guaranteed tuition program, this tuition increase would be the only one next year’s incoming freshmen would face. It is unclear if the increase would apply to students at OU who do not have guaranteed tuition, which includes current sophomore, juniors and seniors.

Tuition for a full-time, in-state student is currently $10,536. If a 1.7 percent increase were approved, tuition would rise to $10,715 for an in-state student. The council also voted to increase the additional fee for out-of-state students by 5.5 percent, raising that cost from $8,964 to $9,457. 

The council also voted to recommend increases to room — 3.5 percent — and board — 2.0 percent — rates.

Gabby Bacha, a senior and president of Student Senate, said she voted for all the increases in order to afford deferred maintenances and increased cost of health care.

“I had a lot of grappling with myself thinking of what those [affected] students are going through and what they may incur,” she said. “I believe that our quality of education will benefit from that if nothing else, so that’s why I voted in favor of that.”

Carl Eddie Smith III, president of Graduate Student Senate, said he does not believe student affordability interests are well-represented in council meetings.

Smith said he suggested alternatives to costly meal plans and tuition increases in previous meetings and before Friday's vote. He said he was the only person who opposed every resolution at Friday's meeting. 

"The committee, from what I understand, rubber stamps everything that comes through, and I'm the only dissenting voice," Smith said.