As discovered by the New Political and discussed in our last post, OU President Roderick McDavis supports Senate Bill 5, the proposed legislation that severely limits public employee collective bargaining rights and reclassifies university faculty as “management”–a provision that effectively prevents faculty from unionizing. President McDavis also “signed a letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich last December, as a member of [the Inter-University Council's] council of university presidents, that requested more flexibility in dealing with regulations to public universities.”
President McDavis, in short, not only likes the idea of making it illegal for faculty to form a collective bargaining unit but also wants to deregulate OU, an idea that lines up neatly with a scheme Gov. Kasich has concocted to turn Ohio’s public universities into “charter universities”–basically, private institutions subsidized by taxpayer money. Language for such a provision could be inserted into the SB 5 before the bill goes to the House for a final vote.
Charter universities are potentially disastrous for students. In essence, a charter university means that the State of Ohio will give less money to our public institutions in exchange for less regulation on them. We know that regulation isn’t always a bad word; in fact, the regulations that exist on public colleges and universities are important ones, like the ability to place tuition caps and have government oversight and accountability of how taxpayer dollars are being spent. No tuition caps plus less state funding equals infinite tuition increases. In Virginia, which underwent similar restructuring in recent years, tuition has increased by double-digit percentages. This year, Virginia Commonwealth University increased its tuition by 24 percent. This is going to make it even more difficult for the average Ohio family to send their children to college. Either students will choose not to attend college, or they will graduate with an even greater amount of debt – both of which will equate to less spending potential in the economy.
Our public universities were meant to serve all Ohioans, not just those wealthy enough to afford a post-secondary education. Privatization, an idea President McDavis seems to embrace, undermines this fundamental trust to the detriment of bright, talented students whose only mistake was not to be born rich.