Students protest $440 per-credit-hour fee outside University Library

Rex Santus

“We are Kent State. We will not pay.”

“K-E-N-T. We don’t want your credit fee.”

“We are the 99. Lefton is the 1 percent.”

Chants filled Risman Plaza Thursday afternoon as students picketed outside University Library. Students assembled at 2 p.m. to protest the university’s new fee — $440 for each credit hour a student registers after 17 hours.

“I just want [Lefton] to sit down and listen,” said John Liptak, junior theatre studies major and leader of the protest. “He’s done a lot of talking but not about the issues.”

Liptak estimated that “400 or 500” people participated at the protest throughout the day. The group, in addition to chants, used signs and petitions to voice opinions.

One of the signs, fashioned from a Cap’n Crunch cereal box, said, “I can’t even afford a real sign.” Another sign read, “[Governor John] Kasich and Lefton sitting in a tree.”

Numerous participants urged students and passersby to sign a petition. Liptak said he was unsure how many people had signed.

Liptak said he wants the Board of Trustees to either repeal the new fee or lower it.

Email from the provost

Provost Todd Diacon said in an email to faculty that the university increased tuition and instituted the credit-hour fee because it needs money. He said he hoped faculty and students would consider the following:

• Kent State’s tuition and fees are $9,346, ranging somewhere in the middle for Ohio public universities.

• Right now, only Miami, Ohio State and Kent State do not have a course overload credit-hour fee.

• 12.6 percent of Kent State students enroll in 18 or more credit hours.

• Only Kent State and Ohio University consider 11 credits full time. This gives every full-time Kent State student two credits per year for free.

• He will work to raise development funds to lessen costs for studying abroad and other educational opportunities.

• He will begin conversations with faculty and other university leaders to review degree requirements and compare them with those of other public institutions.

“There are still tons of people who have no what is going on,” Liptak said. “But we are all about promoting awareness. That’s what this is about.”

Michael Marefka, sophomore international relations major, said he attended the protest because the administration is not listening to the students.

“There is no way to open a dialogue between us and the administration,” Marefka said. “We’re stuck. We don’t know what else to do.

“I want the Board of Trustees to hear our voice and realize we’re all in an economic bind,” Marefka added. “It’s not just the university that’s suffering in these times. Right now, it’s [the administration’s] decision, and we’re not being represented at all.”

Nick Moyer, senior history major, said he was at the protest out of principle, not a personal agenda.

“Even though [the new fee] does not affect me … I can’t imagine why people should have to pay any more [money],” Moyer said. “I don’t believe the Board of Trustees will completely waive this fee without a compromise. We need to work together.”

Two police officers watched the protest group from a distance, but the demonstration remained peaceful, Liptak said.

“Look at how much good this has done,” Liptak said. “Nothing violent has happened. There have been no problems with the police.”

With the large turnout of protesters, he considered the event a success but said the students’ work was far from over.

“I literally just came up with the decision [to protest again] a few minutes ago. It’s got to happen again,” Liptak said. “Look how many people we have here. Look how many people are so passionate about it. It would be insane to not have another protest … More and more people are hearing about this. Why the hell not?”

Quotes from Liptak

John Liptak, junior theatre studies major and leader of the protest, on how the movement got started.

Liptak said that the group of students weren’t protesting just to be contrary, or cause any riots or violence. He said the students obtained the proper permit for the protest and their efforts to keep the demonstration under control have earned the respect of others at the university.

Liptak said that he expected the administration to remain quiet about the issue. However, as the protest gains steam, he said the university will have to listen to them at some point.

Chants from the crowd

Audio courtesy of Grant Engle and WKSU

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