Students Protest Proposed Tuition Hike

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A group of Ohio University students are publicly protesting the expected tuition hike.

The group held a rally Wednesday afternoon on College Green just outside the Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium.

With a smaller than expected turnout, organizers opted to march over in front of Scripps Hall in an attempt to catch more eyes and ears.

Tyler Barton, one of the student organizers, expressed clear disappointment in the turnout when he made the announcement that the group would be moving the protest to the front of Scripps.

This rally is just the latest in a string of student movements in direct response to the administration’s budget plan.

Ohio University’s Board of Trustees will be voting Friday whether or not to accept the Budget Planning Council's proposal to increase tuition and room and board costs by 3.5% for next year.

Tuition has increased the previous three years, making this the fourth year in a row that students would be dealing with a tuition hike.

"Students are literally putting off graduation, buying a house, putting off getting married and having kids, because they’re in too much debt and can’t find a job." Barton said. "It’s shockingly irresponsible to raise tuition 3.5% when students are already struggling."

Once the group arrived at the front of Scripps, they unveiled signs and began chants, expressing their obvious outrage.

Sophomore Jess Miller and Junior Ellie Hamrick each offered up testimonies, openly describing their financial situations and pleading with administration to think twice about raising costs.

"Administration basically says that students have two options," Hamrick said. "Either take this tuition increase or we can cut funding for things that matter to students. So it’s like your left arm or your right arm, and we basically reject both these options."

Rising costs of higher education is now a nationwide issue.

Student loan debt in America is over a trillion dollars, making it the largest form of consumer debt.

With financial problems being such a pressing issue for students, one has to wonder why the rally didn’t attract a larger group of students.

Even as the protest went on across the street from Baker, not many students took the time to stop and listen for more than a couple of minutes.

"It gets your point across, but it’s not really going to affect anybody’s opinions who are voting on it," student Katie Peterson said as she watched the protest. "They already know what the student point of view is, and probably have taken it into consideration."

As Friday’s vote closes in, student organizers are making sure they utilize every possible avenue to grab the attention of administrators.

Students have talked to President Roderick McDavis during his open office hours, organized a sit-in, and have been trying to influence Student Senate.

"I believe we have convinced Student Senate to pass a resolution saying that the Student Senate doesn’t believe there should be a tuition increase this year," Barton said.

Students will learn quickly if their actions have caught the attention of the Board of Trustees when the results of Friday's vote are publicized.