The University of Toledo Faculty Senate hosted State Representative Dan Ramos to discuss the issues of higher education and having students’ voices heard in politics.
This forum was held Oct. 26 in UT’s Student Union where financial aid, the priorities of state representatives and post-secondary enrollment options were discussed.
Before the forum, the audience discussed a state tax bill that would help students afford textbooks and a bill allowing teachers to receive certifications from for-profit groups.
They did not like the bill about for-profit groups certifying teachers because “there have been a lot of quality issues with the teachers that come out of this program,” according to Diane Miller, associate vice president for government relations.
Linda Roullard, president-elect of Faculty Senate, asked if a committee meeting has been cancelled because of a lot of people testifying.
“If the bill is controversial and they don’t think they have the votes, they’ll take the bill off the [senate] committee; if there’s a member who introduces a bill and they’re not particularly a fan of it or they don’t like the bill, it usually gets one hearing,” said Jared Holt, director of government relations, in response to Roullard’s question.
When discussing why there isn’t more focus on higher education, Ramos talked about the mindset of the senators.
“If your priority is lowering taxes, then you’re going to lower taxes. If your priority is overhauling K-12, then you’re going to overhaul K-12. If your priority is higher education, then you’re going to do more for higher education,” Ramos said.
Ramos discussed why the senate had reservations about removing the tax with UT’s faculty.
“‘Skin in the game, nothing counts unless you have skin in the game.’ These are the most dangerous words I have ever heard in higher education,” said Ramos.
Ramos went on to reveal the effects of the “skin in the game” phrase : there was a derailment of attempts to lower the cost of education to add more scholarships and other education cost-saving measures.
Faculty Senate discussed if having students go to Columbus to testify could help get the state senate to do something about removing the textbook sales tax.
“I think it might; my only caution is making it seem like that’s the thing that makes college unaffordable,” Ramos said.
Roullard said she was pleased with how the discussion turned out.
“We had the Faculty Senate forum to engage more faculty and to foster discussion on issues related to higher education,” she said.
The next Faculty Senate forum will be held in the spring semester.