Opinion: Students Should Protest to Help Themselves

Ray+Paoletta+is+a+junior+political+science+major.+Contact+him+atrpaolet1%40kent.edu.

Ray Paoletta is a junior political science major. Contact him [email protected]

Ray Paoletta

On Wednesday, March 11, the Ohio Student Association teamed up with the Ohio Students Against Sweat Shops, the Kent Socialist Collective Group, and the Kent State College Democrats to confront University President Beverly Warren as she left the student center.

The gathering was in support of raising the wages of University employees, who the groups claim are not paid a wage large enough to support themselves. One of the protestors stated that the groups need to keep confronting President Warren until the university faces the protests and does something about the issue.

My goal in this column is not to comment about the wages of Kent State workers and the demonstration that took place Wednesday. After hearing about multiple Kent State student organizations banding together it led me to think about other issues that these students could have been protesting. I found it surprising that these students find it more important to protest the wages of university employees and keep at it until they see the change they want instead of protesting against the many ways universities are causing college graduates to leave school with insane amounts of debt.

Every credit hour taken over 16 at Kent State comes with a $447 fee. All one needs to do is talk to their classmates to understand that finishing college in four years while taking 16 or less credit hours is easier said than done. Would it not make more sense for a group of multiple student organizations to band together and protest the credit hour fee until their voice is heard and the fee is removed?

Perhaps the protestors were too busy Wednesday to know that housing costs at Kent State will be raising an average of 3.9 percent next year. On top of an increase in housing costs, the university also plans to increase early arrival fees from ten to thirty-five dollars, and in fall of 2016 the housing application fee will increase form twenty-five to forty dollars. The cost increases do not stop there. The university also plans to increase the dining plan fees. As an employee at Rosie’s I know that students struggle to get rid of meal plan money that does not roll over after the spring semester, students already pay enough for their food. Again, where are the students protesting against these fee increases?

Of course, room and board costs are not the only factors that cause college to be so expensive. The average textbook cost for a student at a four-year university is $1200 per semester. However, the students are nowhere to be seen or heard protesting the cost of textbooks. I would think that it makes sense for students to protest against being required to purchase unique Kent State addition textbooks for classes that are not unique to Kent State. For example, in the fall semester, I had to buy a Kent State addition textbook and the only unique aspect to it was the front cover that said Kent State on it. Yet I had to pay more for this special edition book and was unable to sell it back after the semester.

The above are a few of the factors that cause college graduates to leave school with an average debt of $29,090 in Ohio. Furthermore, I did not even mention the 2 percent increase in tuition at Kent State during the 2014-2015, which is the maximum tuition increase allowed. In a time when college costs are rising from every possible angle, I think it is time that students start protesting to support making college more affordable. 

The amount of debt that college graduates are taking on is a problem that cannot continue and it is time that students start taking a hard stand against the university calling on them to do their part. Right now it appears that nobody is thinking of the needs of the students. It appears not even the students see out of control college costs as a priority.