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Letter to the editor: Students must demand Ohio State president address inequality

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President Michael Drake speaks to graduates and spectators Dec. 21 during the OSU 2014 Autumn Commencement at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

President Michael Drake speaks to graduates and spectators Dec. 21 during the OSU 2014 Autumn Commencement at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Letter to the editor:

Ohio State is the most unequal public university in the country, according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Policy Studies. What this means in the report is that salaries for university administrators have skyrocketed, while at the same time, students are going into greater amounts of debt. Student tuition is by and large not being used to finance education, but is rather being spent on making a few administrators very rich.

Let’s be clear about what this study shows: students and teachers are being driven into tremendous financial hardship, while OSU makes millions in profit for its administrators. Those administrators line their pockets, and build fancy new facilities that increase the prestige of OSU, convincing more students and teachers to come here and be exploited.

Student debt was more than credit card debt in the U.S. at over $1.2 trillion in 2012. These problems are related to the university structure that is modeled on a for-profit corporation, and this report clearly shows that connection.

Students must demand that President Michael Drake address the IPS report, and lay out a plan for meaningful change. Drake should be prepared for these kinds of mass protests if he continues to ignore the exploitation of teachers and students at this school.

The IPS report can be found at ips-dc.org/one_percent_universities.

Dan DiPiero

Ph.D. student in comparative studies

DiPiero.12@osu.edu

3 comments

  1. Yep, Mr. DiPiero is right. Administration is not the reason for our university.

    STUDENTS ARE.

    Teaching students should be the prime goal, followed by research. Educated students will be conducting future research, so their development is critical.

    Admin pay ain’t.

    Admin has forgotten, or perhaps, never been aware, that they are supposed to be serving the students.

    And they certainly don’t seem to understand “lowering costs.” I think it’s because when you earn six figures, hang around those who earn six figures, hobnob with the politically connected set and isolate yourself in your own subculture, you forget about the rest of the world and think only in terms of second homes, three martini lunches and purchasing your next luxury car using your “car allowance” provided by OSU. They may not be bad people, but they have totally limited mindsets. Paying them top dollar makes things worse, not better. Giving them bonuses is obscene.

    We’re all supposed to be public servants, not Academic Lottery Winners

    This isn’t good for morale, either.

    Karl
    spaulding.10

  2. For a PhD student, this is a terribly written letter full of generalizations and out-of-scope comparisons. Even misinformation. Yikes.

    Facts from the 2014 IPS study he is referencing:
    -Average student debt rose 46% to $26,409 a pupil from 2006-2012
    -Adjust and contingent faculty cost rose 62% from 2005-2011
    -Top executive is paid $5.9M from 2010-2012

    What Mr. DiPiero either does not mention or mentions incorrectly:
    -Ohio State in-state tuition has remained steady at ~$10,000 since 2008. It is projected to increase 1.9% in FY 15, which is slightly above US inflation rate of 1.6% during 2014.
    -During the same time, the value of an Ohio State degree has grown tremendously. The average freshman ACT has increased from 26.4 in 2006 to 28.8 in 2014. The average OSU student is now in the top ~7% of ACT test takers.
    -Ohio State is a non-profit institution run on a non-profit model
    -Student debt statistic of the US is slightly out of scope – especially given there are no other hard statistics mentioned
    -Athletic facilities are funded either internally through athletic proceeds or private donations
    -Eight administrators made over $1 million dollars in academic year 2014. Hardly a huge crowd of pocket liners exploiting students. It included the CEO of James Cancer Hospital, Chief Investment Officer, Athletic Director, General Counsel, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, President, Head Men’s Basketball Coach & Head Football Coach. Athletic coaches are funded through athletic proceeds. One could argue non-athletic top earners still make less than their private sector counterparts.
    -The sentence “Drake should be prepared for these kinds of mass protests” is laughable.
    1. President Drake
    2. Egregiously overstates how many people are actively protesting

    Latern – you’re better than to publish an article with the literary prose of fumbling putz and anecdotal support of manic blatherskite. Do better.

  3. @Michael,

    Thank you for your kind and considered response.

    I would just like to clarify a few points, if I may.

    While you are correct in asserting that many of the claims in my piece are opinions (this is a letter to the editor, after all), I did not single out Ohio State simply because I attend the University. In fact, you’ll notice that the numbers you yourself reference are from page 11 of the report, which identifies OSU as the number one worst offender in all categories:

    “Top 5 Most Unequal Public Universities
    based on our analysis, we determined the worst overall offenders across all categories:
    excessive executive pay, highest student debt, and large increases in low-wage and/or
    contingent faculty labor. (See Appendix 1, No. 5)
    1. Ohio State University
    From FY 2010 to FY 2012, Ohio State paid its top executive $5.9 million. From summer 2006 to
    summer 2012, average student debt rose 46% to $26,409. From fall 2005 to fall 2011, adjunct and
    contingent faculty increased 62% –nearly three times faster than the national average.”

    As you can see, this is not my opinion, but a key finding in the report. Thus, the numbers you cite with regard to student tuition and the nature of the football program matter not one bit. The report is not just about debt and tuition costs, but about an intersection of a variety of factors, as specified in this quote:

    “State universities have come under increasing criticism for excessive executive pay, soaring student debt, and low-wage faculty labor. In the public debate, these issues are often treated separately…Our findings suggest these issues are closely related and should be addressed together in the future.”

    Finally, with regard to the sentence about protests: you are again correct that it is “laughable”, but I’m afraid that is because my original submission referenced mass protests in Canada, where students and teachers have shut down two of the largest Universities in the country due to similar issues. Unfortunately, when the editors cut that sentence, it rendered my sentence with the reference “these” incomprehensible. The editors are also responsible for removing the word “President” before Drake. I attempted to contact them with corrections, to no avail. Please accept my apologies for these errors; the rest of my statements, however, I firmly stand behind.

    If you are interested in finding out more information from sources other than myself, I encourage you to begin with this article in The Nation: “What Makes Ohio State The Most Unequal Public University In America? http://www.thenation.com/blog/179920/what-makes-ohio-state-most-unequal-public-university-america

    In that article, you can see more clearly how and why non-profit state institutions have come to increasingly resemble for-profit corporations. (I would also assert that these distinctions are less meaningful than many give them credit for; remember that the NFL is technically a non-profit entity.)

    Much more data on this issue can be found here: http://www.newfacultymajority.info/research-and-reports/

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