More than 100 Ohio State students converged on the Oval today to protest growing college costs and what they say is increasing administrative pressure to run the university like a business. The rally was part of a national day of protests coordinated by several student groups, including the Occupy movement, which had its start on Wall Street.
More than 100 Ohio State students converged on the Ovaltoday to protest growing college costs and what they say is increasing administrative pressure to run the university like a business.
The rally was part of a national day of protests coordinated by several student groups, including the Occupy movement, which had its start on Wall Street.
“If education is a right, then education isn’t and shouldn’t be a privilege only accessible to people of certain financial qualifications,” said Molly Hendrix, a senior sociology major.
Gathered in front of the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, students pumped their fists in solidarity as they chanted slogans such as “public education, not a corporation.”
The students complained about the increasing amount of money they have to borrow to pay for school and the poor job prospects awaiting them once they graduate.
Ohio college seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $27,713, ranking the state the seventh-highest in the nation, according to a report by the Project on Student Debt.
It’s hard to repay loans, the protesters said, when you don’t have a job.
In Ohio, nearly one in five people between the ages of 20 and 24 were unemployed last year. Only 16- to19-year-olds had a higher rate, at 24 percent, state statistics show.
They also protested against the state’s enterprise university plan and Ohio State’s willingness to consider leasing its ancillary operations, such as the airport, golf course and parking operation, to private investors. Privatizing operations would serve “private interests instead of the common good,” said Deb Steele, an organizer with Jobs With Justice, a national association of labor unions, faith-based groups and community organizations.
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said the university has raised tuition only twice in the past five years. “We share our students’ concerns with rising college costs.”
That’s why the university is aggressively pursuing innovative ways to create new revenue streams and reallocate existing resources to support teaching and learning, he said.
After listening to more than a half-dozen speakers, the students marched to President E. Gordon Gee’s office, where one of the students read off a list of demands. They then headed to High Street, where they spilled into the roadway, blocking southbound traffic for about 20 minutes.
The group ended at the Ohio Union with an “open mic” session on a bullhorn, allowing various students to share personal concerns about the future of higher education.