In the race to be the best, OU has its priorities straight

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By Kaylee Kean

The cost of college is climbing too much, and may no longer be worth it for students and society. Or at least that’s what “Ivory Tower,” a documentary from producer and director Andrew Rossi, suggests.

Set to release on CNN/U.S. on Thursday, this documentary explores a variety of topics and factors that have worked to continuously push tuition rates through the roof, and, as a result, the amount of debt students must face.

“American colleges are driven by the pursuit of prestige, and the way you get prestige is that you get the highest rating, which expands your market then allows you to charge more,” says Anthony Carnevale, Center on Education and the Workforce of Georgetown University, in the film.

Schools are stuck on an ever-reaching ladder, he says, and to climb up it they must keep building and adding at a faster rate than the competition. This costs more, which means higher tuition prices, which means a need for more amenities to draw in students, which costs more.

While each school’s circumstances are different, there’s that one common theme explored in “Ivory Tower”: the race for prestige, and the loss of higher education’s true mission through that race—the mission where student education and insight is at the forefront of everything.

With a burst of new buildings and amenities, Oakland has most certainly been a part of this race. These are impressive additions that have been attracting positive attention,  however, there is something else that seems to set this school the apart: its increasing attention to the students.

“This is definitely one of the best years for it just because there are so many new people that are around,” said Liz Iwanski, vice president for the Oakland University Student Congress. “They’re looking for input on what’s going to happen with the university and what direction it’s going to head in.”

Iwanski also represents students on the strategic planning committee, where she said the administration’s interactions with her have been impressive.

Unlike at many other universities, Iwanski and Student Body President Annie Meinberg have the chance to meet regularly with the people in higher positions. Last week they met with James Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. 

There Iwanski and Meinberg shared student perspectives and problems, and Lentini was open to these and said he would discuss them with other staff and faculty.

“Dr. Hynd has been amazing as well, and has really taken a lot in about all of the suggestions that we’ve been giving,” Iwanski said. Hynd has asked for continued discussion on a possible Oakland Center expansion, for example, she said.

“I think a lot of people are there and they’re listening.”

We at The Oakland Post commend administrators for taking these measures amidst so much change, and encourage them to continue listening and placing students high on the list of priorities.

We also reinforce the need for each and every faculty, staff and administrative member to do the same. We need them share themselves and to accept what we have to share and say. When we attend a board of trustees session or an OUSC meeting, we need those in power to listen to all of our voices, not just the voices of a select few. We need respect. We need mentors and motivators. Most importantly, we need to be viewed as people trying to better themselves and earn quality educations.

Schools are built upon the needs and desires of students, and it is crucial for universities to recognize that. What good would a university do, however prestigious, if there were no students to take advantage of what it offers?

So thank you, Oakland University, for recognizing this importance of the people. 

Thank you for bringing students into the process. 

Thank you for listening to their concerns, and for planning to address them.