Students are experiencing historic high costs of higher education. While debt levels are ever increasing, transparency of administrative decisions is diminishing. Inspired by the Occupy movement this gathering of primarily students is urging OSU to be truly democratic within the administration of the university.
Recent public records requests revealed that the number of university administrators and staff making $300,000 or more in base salary doubled from 2010 to 2011. Combined salaries on this list went from $43.5M in 2010 to a whopping $86M in 2011, all while student tuition and fees continually increase. This is cause for concern among students of all majors and of great concern for the vast majority of staff members who have not had their salaries or benefits grow.
OSU is now considering leasing parking services on campus for the next 50 years. If the contract is signed this will result in parking fees doubling over the next 10 years. Students, faculty and staff have been fighting back against this short-sighted deal that does not make any financial sense in the near or long run. Parking is a vital revenue source for the University; it pays for services such as the Campus Area Bus Services. Unfortunately CFO Chatas (he makes more than $650K a year) who came from Wall St. seems steadfast in his pillaging of OSU's resources for his Wall St. investor connections. Most troubling is a comment made by a medical center lobbyist from OSU Jerry Friedman - on May 21st 2011 "We are revisiting the mission statement of the University, maybe we won't always be a land-grant University." This comment was made at The 8th Annual History of Black Columbus Conference held at the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center.
As university administrators continue to receive bonuses and increases in salary, Ohio now has the seventh-highest average student debt amount in the nation, according to a study from The Institute for College Access and Success. This, combined with the continuing increase in student tuition and fees, is why students of all years and majors are planning the protest.
The concentration of wealth and power has been breaking our national economy and has no business on campus, especially when it comes at the expense of students' financial stability post-graduation. Similar protest will be happening March 1st on various campus across Ohio as students around the state are now organizing around all of the above issues, and are educating each other on related environmental and labor concerns as well.
Thursday's rally and march at OSU was organized by Occupy Ohio State with support from Ohio Student Association and Greater Columbus Jobs with Justice.