As the acceptance status of future members of the class of 2023 remains up in the air until March 1, the factor of increased tuition at OU could affect their decision to enroll. 

The Ohio University Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition for the 2020 fiscal year at the beginning of the semester. Sure, the majority of us on campus are protected by the OHIO Guarantee — meaning we are promised the tuition from our first year enrolled at OU throughout our studies — but the trend of higher education costs becoming an increasingly unsustainable trend continues.

Since 2000 the issue concerning rising proportions of debt to tuition ratios in America have been on full display. During the past two decades, the U.S. has refused to put its back to the wall and face the devastating rising rates of educational costs for those who seek college degrees.

On Dec. 13, our Student Senate President Maddie Sloat voted in favor of the tuition increase for 2020. 

“It would be simple for me to vote no solely based on the burden students already bear in terms of the cost of education,” Sloat said.

Sloat’s overarching responsibility is to look out for the interests and opinions of the student body and speak up on their behalf within the institution. While there is truth in her statement about higher education not being a top priority for most of Ohio’s policy-makers, it feels as though college affordability is not at the top of Sloat’s concerns. 

While Sloat believes it would be simple for her to vote no based on the cost of education to students already, tuition is of little concern for the Student Senate president as the person in that position is granted a full-tuition scholarship.

As a student here at OU who will be in a pit of debt like many of my colleagues, I find this to be utterly irresponsible of our Student Senate president — who is elected by the student body to represent our interests — to continue to allow tuition raises and even advocate for them while our nation is facing the highest percentage of student loan debt for college graduates in history. 

Sloat argues that when a university lacks increased revenue it can affect the ability of the university to recruit and retain top-level faculty, this in turn impacts the enrollment rate and retention of students. It is directly the responsibility of the Student Senate president to uphold the integrity of their institution. When the university is able to continue to demand increases in tuition without having to be held to standards of improvement, the student’s interests are lost and the institution’s interest always win.

Ironically, Sloat stated, “according to Policy Matters Ohio, state funding for higher education in Ohio was half a billion dollars less in Fiscal Year 2017 than Fiscal Year 2008 when adjusted for inflation.” That means the state of Ohio produced $500 million less in 2017 than it did nine years prior. That alone is an unacceptable fact that should illustrate to Sloat the inadequacy of the current state of higher educational funding and how little these organizations actually are concerned with investing in education. 

Ohio University’s Student Senate has not always been this lackadaisical when it comes to concern over tuition rates. Just last year, our previous Student Senate President Landen Lama voted against a 1.3 percent increase in tuition because he believed that “more must be done to take the sole pressure off the backs of students.” He continued by stating that, “Within the next year Student Senate will do everything in our power to advocate, alongside the university, to the State for increases to (state funding for colleges).”

Sloat ended her statement with this, “I'm voting yes because the current situation forces me to do such. I am voting yes to improve services and education because voting no will hinder the OHIO experience for students.” 

But is the current situation forcing Sloat to do such, or is that just her biased opinion? Will services and education as well as the “OHIO experience” for students be improved as a result of her voted increase in tuition? Time has told that those factors will not be improved, and in their place, the agenda of the institution will continually thrive and prey on the feeble nature of the student body that is dependent upon their representation as well as the institution itself.

Nick Shook is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Nick know by emailing him at ns258814@ohio.edu

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