Rachel Radina is a graduate student working w/ Miami University Defend Ohio “We’re concerned about the push to privatize our public universities in Ohio. Chancellor (Jim ) Petro put out a report last week or a plan to create charter-- or what they’re calling ‘enterprise universities’, ” said Radina. 100_4026 She said universities would get less state funding in exchange for less regulations from the state. She said this would hurt economically vulnerable people.

“So they (Ohio Board of Regents) would have the ability to increase tuition and increase class size. That means less quality education. But it’s going to cost more money. So it’s kind of like a backdoor tax on Ohio families,” Radina said.

She said the report also calls for the university to have even greater ability to partner w/ corporate entities; and that this will worsen the situation in which university faculty do research for corporate interests which may not exactly jibe w/ the public good.

"We don’t really know what the final plan will look like. But we want to be included in the conversation. That’s why we're here today(at the Stand Up For Ohio festival) to let the public know these talks are going on behind closed doors, and if we don’t do something about it, our universities will be private and less accessible to working families,” said Radina.

In an email two days after the festival, Radina said constituents should stress to one another and to politicians the importance of keeping education public and accessible to everyone. She said the Enterprise University plan is bad for students and workers, and communities in general.

"Public education provides a public good and if it is taken away it will impact communities in many ways. Privatization leads to less regulation, which in turn leads to less accountability to the public and--- in the case of the Enterprise University---public tax dollars would still be used," Radina said.

She said this is happening or has happened in other states.

"Chancellor Petro's plan seems to contain some of the same ideas as legislation enacted in Colorado and Virginia. Under the charter university model, Virginia Commonwealth University increased its tuition by 24 percent in one year," said Radina.

Last Saturday, it was an unseasonably cold day in August when we spoke w/ Deb Steele, an organizer w/ Columbus Jobs With Justice, and former Outreach Director at Jennifer Brunner for US Senate.

Steele said money is going to charter universities when it should be going to public universities; and that OSU president Gordon Gee's ties to corporations conflict w/ his responsibility to lead a public university.

“There are murmurs of him wanting to privatize Ohio State University in the near future,” said Steele.

"I wouldn't be surprised--- if we did nothing---in a year and a half you would see some kind of OSU wing that’s a charter school. I’ve heard the chief medical center lobbyist say ‘we’re revisiting our mission statement; maybe we won’t always be a land grant university.’"

To find out more : Ohio Conference/American Association of University Professors

The Enterprise University Plan