Opinion: Tuition protestors should circle June 6



Jodi Michael

Jodi Michael

Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Tuition is about to go up for the second consecutive year. Along with a $163 increase per semester, the university will also charge an additional $440 for each credit hour students take above 17 hours. The Board of Trustees approved these increases during its March 14 meeting.

Judging by the circulating petitions, comments on KentWired and last week’s protests, many students are aware of this approved increase and are unhappy about it. That’s great to know; a common stereotype is that not enough students get involved in important university matters, so I’m glad it isn’t the case this time around.

But my hope is that the outrage won’t simmer down. It will be beneficial to pay attention for another forthcoming decision by the Board of Trustees to see just how much concern they have about the worsening financial burden on students.

Specifically, I’m curious to discover if the trustees will once again give President Lester Lefton his full performance bonus this summer. He has received a bonus in each of his first five years here, with last year’s exceeding $100,000.

The Board evaluates Lefton each year to determine if he deserves a bonus. From documents the Stater has gathered, three of last year’s agreed-upon measurements were related to financial measurement: reaching fundraising goals, balancing the budget and preparing for collective bargaining.

None of the metrics mentioned student tuition costs; in fact, the increases might benefit Lefton in his evaluation, since they help to balance the budget.

Lefton told the Faculty Senate last week the new tuition increases are due to funding cuts from the state, and that students will have to make up the difference. Surely he and the Board of Trustees realize students need not be the only ones who make a sacrifice.

This is why I think the current evaluation process has a huge flaw. If reduced funding (or added costs) cause a financial shortfall, how can the Board of Trustees justify approving an increase in students’ tuition costs while simultaneously handing Lefton an extra $100,000 bonus, and how can Lefton willingly accept it? It’s not only counterproductive but also hypocritical.

Maybe it’s time to keep an eye on these Board of Trustees meetings. The decision on Lefton’s bonus typically comes in the June meeting. This year, that will be Wednesday, June 6, at the conference room in the executive offices on the second floor of the library.

According to the meetings’ public attendance rules, members of the public are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. Audience members must remain seated and refrain from interfering with the proceedings. Also, don’t bring any posters or drinks.

Anyone who wants to address the Board during the meeting must give at least two weeks written notice to Board Secretary Charlene Reed in the executive offices.

Those are a lot of rules, but nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity for those students with particularly compelling hardships to address the Board.

Do you take strenuously heavy course loads in order to graduate sooner? The average college graduate’s debt is $25,250. Have you exceeded that already? If you can be in Kent on June 6, you should occupy the Board of Trustees meeting.