Students for education


TOLEDO – University of Toledo and BGSU students don’t agree on much, but they do agree higher education isn’t a priority in Ohio.

And they’re determined to do something about it.

Nearly 40 students packed the south lounge of UT’s Student Union yesterday for the kick-off of a statewide campaign “Think Ohio.”

Student leaders at UT, the University and eight other Ohio public universities have joined together to make higher education a priority in the state.

“Higher education is not bills passed by legislators,” said Aaron Shumaker, USG president. “Higher education is not an event to plan for. Higher education is an opportunity and if we don’t seize it now, the opportunity may pass us by.”

The campaign was launched across the state yesterday, with press conferences also held at the University of Cincinnati and University of Akron.

The collaboration of the 10 Ohio public universities will be the driving force behind the campaign’s success, said Tom Crawford, UT’s student government president.

“So many times we get 30 students at the State House, from two universities and they have a broken message,” Crawford said. “We wanted to get as many students as possible and make this a statewide initiative to show unity.”

Ohio has the fifth most expensive average tuition in the United States for four-year public universities, with tuition averaging more than $12,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site.

And making people aware of the problems facing the state is the “meat of the campaign,” according to Maria Khoury, city, state and national liaison for BGSU’s student government.

An essential aspect of the “Think Ohio” campaign are the brochures detailing facts about higher education, the cost of attending public universities and Ohio’s job market, which will be distributed to thousands of high schools across the state.

“If something isn’t done about funding for higher education, then our high school students are the ones that are going to be impacted because it [tuition] is going to keep going up further and further,” Khoury said.

BGSU students and members of USG have advocated for higher education in the past through lobbying, individual visits with legislatures or rallies at the State House, and nothing has worked.

But the campaign will force people to think about the issues, and that’s how change is created, Khoury said.

“The legislatures don’t want us to tell them how to do their job, but we need to tell them what they need to do,” she said. “We can say ‘I vote for you and if you don’t do what I want, then I will not [vote for you].”

Getting the right legislatures in office is also a key part of the campaign.

Providing state support for higher education is a priority among some legislatures, but not all of them, Crawford said.

“We realize that even though we do have some champions for higher education in Columbus, we need the votes in the House and Senate,” he said. “And the way we get those votes is to elect higher education minded officials. And the way we get those people elected is to raise awareness among voters in the state of Ohio.”

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