After four months of waiting, and one initial refusal on the grounds of it being a “trade secret,” the Office of University Compliance and Integrity disclosed Edward Snowden’s speaker fee to me for his sixty-minute Skype call with OSU students on Nov. 30. It was $30,000.

That’s $8 per second, in case you were wondering.

The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.15. So, yes, I make more money in one hour than what Snowden makes in one second — #goals.

The money used to pay Snowden comes from our mandatory Student Activity Fee, which is $37.50 per semester. This fee then goes to the Ohio Union Activities Board  which allocates money for events such as the Snowden video chat.

The $30,000 fee, while hefty, seems unsurprising considering what other public universities have paid for video chats with Snowden — the University of Colorado, Boulder paid $56,000, the University of Arizona paid $20,000 and University of Iowa paid $3,000 (I have no idea how they got such a good deal!).

Anyway, I attended the OSU Snowden video chat out of curiosity. It wasn’t particularly interesting. Snowden talked for 30 minutes, and for the remaining time a moderator and some students asked questions. It was not anything more than what I learned from watching the documentary “Citizenfour,” which, by the way, costs considerably less than $30,000.

But the cost isn’t what bothers me the most. Hearing Snowden’s political views or about his actions  also isn’t what bothers me the most — college is about being exposed to ideas different from your own. What bothers me the most is having no choice but to be put in the unethical position of paying someone with two criminal charges pending against him. OSU students, whether you agree or disagree with Snowden’s actions, we all have been compelled to support his livelihood. In other words, we all have supported the livelihood of an alleged criminal through our obligatory payment of the Student Activity Fee.  

OSU students should be exposed to ideas different from our own, but does that mean we need to pay Edward Snowden’s salary? No, it doesn’t.

Shouldn’t we have a say in whether our $37.50 — which takes many of us about four and a half hours to earn — goes to paying someone who makes that same amount in four and a half seconds? Yes, we should.

OUAB, seriously, next time don’t give us all a moral and monetary headache — just host a screening of “Citizenfour.” It only costs $8 on Amazon.


Robin Smith
Fourth-year in political science and Russian