End Mismanagement: Ohio Students & Faculty Unite

Ohio Higher Ed Decisionmakers

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Support of higher education is key to the research and education Ohioans will need if our state is to survive the interlocking twenty-first century crises of COVID, climate change, economic uncertainty, political dysfunction, and ongoing racial injustice. Nevertheless, this spring, $110 million was cut from Ohio’s public higher education system, already weakened by years of declining public funding. Higher education is one of the largest employers in Ohio, and thousands of staff and faculty have so far been furloughed or laid off, badly damaging communities already suffering from COVID-related expenses and losses.

Ohioans are told that the state can’t afford to increase support for higher education and other essential public services. But just this month, Ohioans learned that we had been bilked of over a billion dollars by legislators secretly working with private energy interests. Redirected, those funds could cover Ohio’s entire public education deficit with funds to spare. It’s time to transform our system and spend Ohio public revenues on community needs, not private greed.

It's time for Ohio to reinvest in public education. Be part of the change. Read the demands below (co-created by students and faculty across the state of Ohio) and sign now!

Petition by

To: Ohio Higher Ed Decisionmakers
From: [Your Name]

COVID-19 did not create the financial crisis in higher education. Instead, dwindling state funding, combined with misprioritized spending, is at the root of the problems facing our universities. At many schools, continued non-academic spending suggests that the “crisis” has been an excuse to deepen partnerships with private interests at the expense of the educational mission. Meanwhile, class sizes grow ever larger and the majority of faculty are low-wage workers with high teaching loads. Funds are increasingly directed away from the educational mission and towards marketing, high-paid administrators, unnecessary construction, and revenue-seeking projects that serve outside interests more than they strengthen our universities. Ohio university athletic programs lost almost $200 million in 2019. Quietly subsidized by student fees and unpaid student labor, they run multimillion-dollar deficits yearly—last year, even at Ohio State. Such spending habits keep our universities in thrall to debt, perpetuate cycles of deficit-producing projects, and decrease affordability for students.

Faculty cuts are false economizing, given that on average, faculty salaries and benefits amount to only 16.6% of university budgets. Despite this, Ohio academic workers have faced firings, layoffs, furloughs, nonrenewals and pay cuts. Across Ohio, these cuts have primarily impacted low-wage workers, such as graduate students, non-tenure track faculty, and low-wage staff. And poor financial decision-making has affected undergraduates, who face oversized classes, deceptive attempts to entice them to campus during a pandemic, and full (in some cases, increased) costs for a less-than-desirable online education.

It's time for Ohio to reinvest in public education. Below are our demands.

To our higher education administrators:

• Open the books—increase transparency and accountability in administration. Students should have access to a line-item budget naming where their tuition and fees go. Academic workers should see clear budget justifications for layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and program closures.
• Offer genuine access to and participation in decision-making. Boards of trustees and administrators should be accountable to the students, faculty, and communities most impacted by their decisions.
• Forgive or reimburse fees for activities, items and services not available to students studying online.
• Ensure that training and technical resources are available to instructors so that they can provide quality online education. Otherwise, reduce tuition for online classes.
• Chop from the top. Protect the economically vulnerable. Recall that Black, brown and indigenous workers and caregivers (who tend to be women) are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Halt firings and layoffs. Protect our communities by reinvesting in education’s key workers.
• Change spending habits:
—Halt administrative bloat, especially among high-paid upper administrators.
—Spend on flesh and blood, not brick and mortar.
—Prioritize student learning conditions and instructor working conditions over projects and expenses that do not serve the educational mission.
• Understand that higher ed is not a business, but a resource for the public good that sustains our economy and welfare.

We understand that methods of addressing these proposals may take different forms at different universities.

To the Governor, Department of Higher Education, and Ohio legislators:

• Include those most affected by decision-making on boards of trustees. Students, staff, faculty, and regular community members deserve representation—and voting power. More and more, board members come from the corporate world and lack expertise in higher education. It is crucial that some members have a keen understanding of budgets and finance, but our boards are also responsible for upholding our universities’ core mission: providing education. Boards must include members with experience in education and understanding of local community needs.
• Acknowledge the hard work of all academic workers by extending collective bargaining rights to graduate student workers and part-time instructors.
• Recognize and support the value higher education provides to the Ohio economy and community thriving beyond “return on investment” for individual Ohioans.
• Take action at the federal, state and local level to increase funding for public education.

Let’s make higher education work for all of us.

Save Ohio Higher Ed Coalition
Ohio Student Association
American Association of University Professors, Ohio Conference
Ohio State University AAUP Chapter
Ohio State University Graduate Student Labor Coalition
Miami University AAUP Chapter
Miami University Graduate Student Association
University of Cincinnati AAUP Chapter
University of Cincinnati Activist Coalition (BoldlyBankrupt.com)
Kent State University AAUP Chapter
Ohio University AAUP Chapter

*Links to information cited here and elsewhere in the letter are available here: https://tinyurl.com/yykxlkyh