Students Protest Potential Tuition Changes

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More than 100 students gathered in the center of Ohio University's Athens campus Monday to protest changes that could soon be made to the way the university bills tuition.

The protest, sponsored by the OU Student Union, took place near the Civil War monument in College Green.

Protestors marched with signs and wore shirts reading "Raise Hell, Not Tuition."

A handful of graduate and undergraduate students and one OU professor spoke about their experiences and concerns with student debt. 

Deb Thorne, an OU professor of sociology, riled up the crowd when she pointed out that student loans are the only kind of debt that cannot be forgiven by declaring bankruptcy.

OU President Roderick McDavis had previously announced his intention to propose a guaranteed tuiton plan at Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting.

Guaranteed tuition is when institutions lock in a tuition rate for a student's four years of instruction.

"The plan would offer predictibility for students and parents, and a financial incentive for timely degree completion," McDavis said in March.

Emily McDermott, an OU sophomore, believe the guaranteed tuiton model doesn't solve the real problem, which she says is expensive higher education.

"I was told quite recently, over Easter break, that my financial situation had changed and now I can no longer afford to go to Ohio University," she said. "I had a path, I had a road, I had plans. And now I don't know what I'm going to do."

Jacob Chaffin, a spokesperson for the OU Student Union, said he believes the guaranteed tuiton model was the lesser of two evils.

He likened the model to having to choose between cutting off one leg or another. 

"I need quality programs and I need affordable tuition. I need that, you need that. Every student on this campus, every student in Ohio needs that. We can no longer be content with being told to pick between our left leg and our right leg," Chaffin said. 

Following the speeches, protestors marched to Cutler Hall, where they attempted to march through, but were stopped by Ohio University police officers.

Ohio Universtiy student senate has scheduled a "Tution Talk" with OU Provost Pam Benoit this Wednesday at the university's Baker Center.

Members of today's protest said they intended to go to the event so they could voice their concerns before the board of trustees meet on Thursday.