OU Students Sit-In To Protest Tuition Increase

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Ohio University students gathered in a sit-in protest yesterday to oppose a potential 3.5 percent tuition increase for the next school year.

In March, Ohio University's Budget Planning Council recommended the increase along with fee and housing cost increases.If approved, this would be the third consecutive tuition increase for Athens campus students in as many years.

Ohio University student-run newspaper, The Post, published an editorial article in Tuesday's newspaper, saying the rising tuition will "lessen higher-education accessibility for students throughout the state."

The Post's editor-in-chief, Wesley Lowery, said Ohio University is a part of public service.

"However, look at Athens where we are living, many of the students here, many of the taxpayers living in Athens wouldn't be able afford to send their children to Ohio University," Lowery said.  

"Higher education is supposed to be educating students. And in this type of system where we keep increasing tuition cost, the students are the ones losing," Lowery said.

A recent study by the nonprofit organization the Institute for College Access & Success ranked Ohio as the state with the seventh-highest level of student debt among graduates in 2010.Ohio University-Main Campus has an average debt of $25,330 per graduate.

A student participant in the protest, Jacob Chaffin, said the student loan crisis is an ongoing, nationwide problem.

"This is a crisis that we're all feeling, one way or another," Chaffin said.

Ohio University Interim Budget Director Chad Mitchell said the university does take the students' concerns into consideration.

"The focus of the university is being able to provide need-based scholarships, financial aid to our students," Mitchell said, "It's still an open-access institution. People can afford it and go to university without taking, you know, huge amount of student loans."

Another student rally is expected on April 18.

"We need to make sure we have a solid student voice against tuition hikes," Chaffin said. "We're not OK with this, and we're not going to take it anymore."