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USG holds open forum on election

It’s a budget year for higher education, and this November’s election will determine how much funding Bowling Green State University and other state schools will get.

The Student Welfare Committee and Undergraduate Student Government held an open forum last night to inform students of this and other issues on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Larry Weiss, associate vice president for University Relations and Governmental Affairs, walked students through each issue on the ballot, stressing the importance of higher education issues.

Weiss said higher education isn’t the first priority of Ohio politicians, because students don’t approach them about the issue.

“There’s no political price to pay if they don’t support higher education,” he said.

Weiss encouraged students to talk to representatives to create change.

Nathan Weidenhoft, USG student welfare chair, presented an easy option for students to get involved.

Students can contact their representatives online through the BGSU Alumni Association Web site, and the Coalition Against Rising Tuition will be at the Union tables before the election to assist students in writing to their representatives via e-mail.

Weiss also discussed Issue 3, which will provide scholarships for higher education through money earned through gambling.

If passed, 31,500 slot machines will be added to race tracks and non-racing sites in Cleveland.

Weiss said the commercials for “Learn and Earn” fail to mention gambling, and that more than 50 percent of the revenue would go to casino operators.

“This is really a way to line their pockets and it’s going to do this in a big way,” he said.

Only 30 percent of the revenue would go to scholarships.

But Weidenhoft said this funding is better than what gubernatorial candidates Ted Strickland, Democrat, and Ken Blackwell, Republican, have to offer.

“Strickland and Blackwell have both come out against it,” he said. “But they’re not really offering an alternative.”

Mark Ingles, member of BGSU College Democrats, presented Strickland’s plan for higher education funding.

Ingles said in the tradition of democratic governors, Strickland would increase funding for higher education.

“The last time we had a democratic governor, spending on higher education went up,” he said.

Weiss encouraged students to decide for themselves which candidate will benefit higher education funding the most, become educated on the issues, vote in the election, and become actively involved in the effort to increase higher education funding.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of people’s voices to be heard,” he said.

Weiss also discussed two smoking issues. He said Issue 4, titled Smoke Less Ohio, would actually increase the number of establishments where smoking is allowed in Ohio and is promoted by tobacco companies.

Issue 5, titled Smoke Free Ohio, would prohibit smoking in most public places.

“For those of you who favor a strict smoking ban then what you have to do is vote no for issue 4 and yes for issue 5,” he said.

Weiss said if both are passed, Issue 4 will “trump issue 5,” even if Issue 4 passes with a higher percentage.

A full list and explanation of these and other issues can be accessed at the Wood County Board of Elections Web site, www.co.wood.oh.us/boe.

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