It’s time for the university to make a decision regarding the $4.8 million deferred payment

By Web Master

By MARK MEDAUGH

Guest Columnist

In 2007 the state of Michigan decided to defer a $4.8 million payment and rescind about $1 million in operating costs payments to Oakland University because of the looming issues with the budget.  

Tuition rocketed up 13.9 percent, causing an increase of almost $1,000 to students for the year, mainly due to this loss of funding.

The increase was initially met with harsh criticism, and then with grumbling acceptance. We understood that even though the university was hurting our pocketbooks the state had hurt its even more.

But then November of 2007 rolled around, and Public Act 136 of 2007 was signed by the governor, which essentially allowed to the state to refund the $4.8 million to the university coffers.

Last fall, while other schools proposed plans for compensating students in some way, our leadership asked for time and for patience. Their request was heard and, again, grudgingly accepted.

But the adminitration has had time, and they’ve had our patience.

While other universities have decided what to do with the money they’ve received, our leadership continues to stall.  

It’s as if our leadership would have us pay into an Oakland University Social Security plan — a plan for which we’ll never qualify.

The university leadership has repeatedly stated that they want student opinions on this issue, yet a Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled during spring break.

Essentially, part of the increase was a loan that the OU took out from the students.

They now have the money to pay that loan back, and they should.

Students should not have to take out more loans than they already do because Oakland wants to default on its own.

It has been said that giving back the money to the students would be “irresponsible” financial planning. This makes, at best, little, and, at worst, no sense at all.

It’s like saying it is irresponsible to pay one’s bills on time. I promise that our bill collectors won’t understand that argument.

What the leadership of OU seems to have forgotten is what the true meaning of being a university is: it is to educate, not to be a profit-generating business.

Should a portion of this $4.8 million come back to our pockets — that’s perfectly acceptable.  Should it be spent on improvements to the various facilties and labs — well, that’s acceptable too.

Waiting on this crucial decision for the next month, quarter, fiscal year, or profit report — that is what is truly unacceptable.

The point of leadership is to lead, not to hide; to make decisions, not deferrals; to do what is right, not necessarily what is easy.

It’s time for our leadership to step up to the challenge and make a call — they’ll have plenty of time to analyze it later.