On Nov. 15, Ohio University faculty members met to discuss potential unionization in the midst of a looming budget crisis for the university. The numbers look bleak. Individual colleges have been asked to cut a total of $19.3 million. And those cuts are going to mainly come from laying off faculty members.
James Mosher is one of the professors leading the charge on the potential unionization of faculty. Mosher taught one of my general education courses. He’s a passionate and qualified educator, a graduate of Princeton and University of Virginia, who is exactly what students need, and to think faculty like him could be lost is frightening.
While the university continues to subsidize an unpopular football team and expand the number of administrators on campus, the cuts are going to hurt the real purpose of the university: the ability to provide a quality education.
OU charges the second highest tuition of any public university in Ohio, and without the professors who provide the education that supposedly warrants those fees, what premium are students paying for?
Laying off faculty members should be a last resort. There’s no excuse for subsidizing athletics and paying the head basketball and football coaches $500,000 more than the average assistant professor while also claiming valuable jobs must go.
The budget cuts aren’t benefiting students. Scholarship money will be lost, course offerings will shrink and the quality of education will decline. The university has ballooned its administration and neglected to expand or reward its faculty in any significant way.
The cuts have largely been blamed on declining enrollment, which, in the university’s defense, is out of their control. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t ill-prepared to deal with it. Despite being aware of the shrinking population of potential college students in Ohio, the university continued to dump money into new administrative positions that have little to do with the work being done in the classroom.
Since 2010, the amount of administrative positions have increased by 45%. Meanwhile, faculty salaries have not increased outside of inflation adjustments since the 1970s. This problem isn’t unique to Ohio University, but it’s still inexcusable, considering the risk every student undertakes when choosing to spend roughly $100,000 on an education here.
The anxiety around the budget issues and the loss of funding to colleges is growing, especially for arts and sciences, which houses the largest number of students on campus and is having its budget slashed by about $8 million.
An anonymous individual took it upon themselves to inform the community about the hypocrisy and short sightedness of the university’s actions, hanging up flyers around campus titled “Top Ten Fun Facts About Ohio University” that lamented the university’s subsidization of athletics and faculty cuts.
As a consequence of those cuts, courses required for graduation may be offered rarely and professors’ workload will be greatly increased. It’s hard to see what the $11,000 premium Ohio University students are paying is actually for if this is the case.
Athletics also play into the hypocrisy of the academic cuts. For this year’s Miami versus Ohio game, the athletics department brazenly chose to bribe students to come to the game with a semester’s tuition to one student who attended. Colleges are being told to cut jobs, but athletics is able to hand out tuition. In 2017, a startling $17.5 million went toward athletics out of fees paid by students every single year while ticket sales only accounted for $1 million in revenue.
This is by far the largest amount of any public university in the state. Ohio University students, many who will rarely participate in athletic events, account for 54% of athletics’ funding. The total per student comes out to roughly $855. That’s an amount that could stop students with outstanding balances from enrolling in classes, and with added interest on loans, it could cost thousands of dollars after graduation.
If all that support was redistributed to academics, the budget crisis would be over. The truth is, athletics is a non-factor for the vast majority of the student body and could be done away with or downsized to maintain a high quality of education.
The Board of Trustees either values athletics more than education or is oblivious to the fact nobody chooses Ohio University for the athletic events. If the administration that’s apparently so justifiably valuable to the quality of education can’t come up with a more beneficial solution, perhaps it’s time for new leadership across the board.
Noah Wright is a junior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Tweet him @NoahCampaign.