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The Ohio Conference of AAUP (OCAAUP) has joined such groups as the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), New Faculty Majority (NFM), Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA), and Ohio Student Association (OSA) in forming a statewide advocacy group on issues related to higher education. After taking some time to create an operating structure and to define its goals, the group held its first press conference this past week. What follows is the news items that the OCAAUP is distributing to its members.
On Tuesday, March 4, the Ohio Higher Education Coalition (OHEC) held its first press conference announcing the formation of the coalition, highlighting student debt stories, and calling for restoration of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which gives need-based aid to lower income students.
OHEC is a statewide organization representing faculty, staff, students, parents, and the community at large. Our goal is to organize the voices of those who are demanding affordable and accessible higher education in high quality colleges and universities that treat those they employ with dignity and fairness.
Founded by a diverse coalition of leaders and activists interested in advancing fairer higher education policy in Ohio, including OCAAUP, OHEC addresses three major issues that threaten the quality and sustainability of higher education in Ohio: massive student debt, decreasing state support for higher education, and exploitation of campus labor.
These three issues are closely interconnected; decades of defunding public institutions of higher learning has resulted in universities both shifting the costs onto students and exploiting the labor of faculty with part-time teaching contracts that do not provide benefits or a living wage.
At Tuesday’s press conference, current college students shared personal stories of their struggles to afford college; and because of changes and reductions in OCOG, they are receiving even less state assistance than they were previously.
Additionally, OCAAUP President John McNay spoke at the event, highlighting how little money at Ohio’s public institutions of higher education is actually spent on instruction. McNay said, “Students should be asking where their tuition dollars are going.”