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Ohio State students march to ‘reclaim education’

Andi Hendrickson / Lantern photographer

Ohio State students gathered on the Oval to join college students around the country in raising awareness to recent tuition hikes.

March 1 is the National Day of Action for Education, and students took action against the state of education.

“Tuition has doubled since the year 2000. It was frozen there a few years under Strickland, it’s going up again now,” said Thomas Lee, a recent OSU graduate. “What’s even more disturbing is we aren’t getting more for what we’re paying, I mean it is the same education that you got before.”

Several student organizations joined forces with Occupy OSU in hopes of motivating and educating students on their rights to an affordable college education.

Molly Hendrix, a fourth-year in sociology, said students educating themselves on the issues pertaining to them plays a very important role.

“There’s this cultural narrative that we go to school to get a job,” Hendrix said. “Not so much that we go to school to learn, to interact in our social environment and to become more thoughtful comprehensive people.”

Jim Lynch, a university spokesman, said in the past five years, OSU has only raised tuition twice.

“We share our students’ concerns with rising college costs,” Lynch said. “That is why the university is aggressively pursuing innovative ways to secure new revenue streams and reallocate existing resources to support teaching and learning and to enhance our academic stature.”

Alex Clark, a fourth-year in landscape architecture, said the large crowd gathered at the Oval drew him to take part in the rally. Clark said he does not see why students have to pay an average of $9,000 every year for college tuition. He said he believes the education system needs to be reformed.

“Education is absolutely a right, everyone deserves and is entitled an education.” Clark said. “We preach to children at a very young age that they need to get through school and do their best and move on and go to college. Well, what if that child was raised in a house hold that’s on food stamps?”

Speakers at the rally included members of Occupy OSU, United Students Against Sweat Shops and Ohio Student Association.

Students opened up and shared their personal struggles with college affordability and student debt.

Molly Shack, a fourth-year in Spanish and international studies, said although she has worked two jobs throughout her college career, she would still owe about $20,000 in loans after graduation.

“My mom took a part-time job to cover some extra expenses my family had,” Shack said. “And because I got bumped up into the next financial bracket, I lost about $10,000 worth of financial aid.”

Speakers agreed that the university needed to step in and work with students in making college more affordable. Some even suggested there be a cap on the hike in tuition costs.

“A lot of us would like to see a tuition freeze and fee freeze,” Hendrix said.

Speakers and students at the rally voiced their frustration with the lack of student involvement, democracy and transparency in university affairs.

Demonstrators took the rally from the Oval and marched to Bricker Hall where President E. Gordon Gee’s office is located. They then marched past College Road, went past Woodruff Avenue and down High Street.

Gee told The Lantern in 2011 that he is a “low-tuition guy.”

“It’s about deregulation. The more that we can control our own agenda, the more ability we have to be able to be fiscally prudent and to be able to generate our own resources,” Gee said. “We are very cognizant of the cost of education. We’re always going to try to be as fair as we can to families.”

Students disrupted the flow of traffic while their march down High Street and as a result, several police cars followed the demonstrators as they made their way to the Ohio Union.

No arrests were made during the march.

Hendrix said that although Occupy Ohio State did now have a “12-step solution” in resolving the rise in the costs of tuition, she hopes the event would result in motivating students to work together in ensuring that attending college no longer becomes a burden to students.

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