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Ribeau’s house, tuition growing

On Saturday, May 15th, an article in the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune announced that the Bowling Green State University Foundation Inc. had offered to buy a house, to be known as “University House,” for $750,000 and an adjacent 13.36 acres (with frontage on Stony Ridge golf course) for an additional $350,000.

This must have been quite a shock, coming as it did hard on the heels of the announcement that the University was, once again, raising tuition by “only” nine percent, as opposed to the 9.9 percent they could have raised it. How benevolent of them.

Of course, we have to give the BGSU Foundation Inc. credit — it’s not like they rushed to this decision. No, instead they spent another $121,016 and two years reviewing the property where our fearless President lives now before deciding he needed a change of scenery.

While I understand that the money the BGSU Foundation Inc. is using to buy this property does not come from tuition, and is instead raised by alumni and through private corporations, this is still a case of horribly misplaced priorities.

Why not instead raise a million dollars to help offset the decrease in state funding?

Besides, the money used to “evaluate” Dr. Ribeau’s current domicile could pay tuition for 35 full-time students at the University. Shouldn’t this money be spent on more important things? Maybe if the Foundation raised a million dollars to help with tuition, it would only be raised by five percent each year instead of nine percent (if we’re lucky).

But that’s not the case.

Instead, that money is going to buy an expensive mansion. All this is for a University president — one who already makes the second most money of any University president in the Mid-American Conference.

Apparently Dr. Ribeau’s house at 632 Hillcrest Drive has become too small to have social gatherings vital to the proper administration of a university.

They had to cook food in the garage!

The horror!

If he wants small, he can come and live in my apartment for a few days. There’s clutter everywhere!

The powers-that-be are already trying to put a positive spin on things. Board member Ed Reiter explains in the Sentinel-Tribune article that the President’s new crib can be used to attract the people who “can bring millions of dollars” to make up for all that lost money not coming from the state. A weenie roast that’s going to make up for $2.63 million? Not to mention the $1.2 million spent on the house to begin with? Dr. Ribeau, that’s gonna have to be some house party.

One thing that has me suspicious is the timing of this announcement. Surely the Board of Whatever has known for a while that this house was going to be purchased, and yet the announcement is just being made now. Why would that be? Perhaps because there are fewer students here to get pissed off? Maybe they figure that all summer students care about is a nice tan and cold beer, not this blatant fleecing.

And what does a university president do anyway, other than talk at commencement for a little bit twice a year? What’s his job description, other than approving the expulsion of bad apples like me? Is the life of a university president so stressful that he needs his own golf course to unwind?

Don’t get me wrong. Dr. Ribeau’s nice, new house is not solely to blame for the tuition increases that come with regularity each year.

But spending more than a million dollars on a house is certainly not going to help.

George Mylander, the foundation’s chairman, states in the article, “There’s never a good time for this. There will always be challenges … ” That’s true. There never is a good time to spend a million dollars on a house, but when tuition is being raised by 9 percent (or more) each year, it is especially not a good time. The fiscal discipline and priorities here seem absolutely flabbergasting.

Upon hearing of a shortage of food among French peasants, Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, supposedly said, “Let them eat cake.” While I am certainly not advocating the response toward Dr. Ribeau that poor Marie got (the French peasants cut off her pretty head during the Revolution), the purchase of a million dollar mansion when tuition is rising like the foam on a poorly poured Budweiser seems to me to be a slap in the face.

We should not take this lightly. Make phone calls. Write letters. Maybe even throw a protest or two. It’s probably too late, but if we let our displeasure be shown here, maybe that would prevent more misguided capitalistic misadventures from occurring in the future.

And if it doesn’t work, vote with your feet. Owens Community College is just down 1-75, and all their president gets is a vanity license plate.

E-mail Shaun with comments at [email protected].

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