YSU students to embark on a key mission in Columbus

Before Youngstown State University students travel to Columbus to lobby members of the Ohio General Assembly for an increase in state funding, we would suggest they do some homework on the way public dollars are doled out by the board of regents.
They should know, for example, that the funding formula used by the regents is unfair to institutions that offer a limited number of graduate and post graduate degrees. They should also know that being an open admissions university puts Youngstown State at a clear disadvantage compared with those that screen potential students.
It is also important for members of the delegation -- it is to be led by Paul Walker, Student Government Association's secretary of Student Affairs and a student member of YSU's board of trustees -- to familiarize themselves with Gov. Bob Taft's state of the state address in which he talked about higher education.
Proposed changes
Taft has proposed that the remediation courses for high school graduates now offered by four-year institutions become the province of two-year institutions, such as the community colleges and branch campuses.
The ramifications are clear. Forty-three percent of the student body enter YSU without having completed college core courses. Thus, the first year on campus essentially becomes the 13th year of high school. That necessitates a commitment of money, faculty and staff that institutions with admission requirements, such as high school grade point average and college entrance examination scores, don't have to make.
But in outlining his new initiative, the governor also said that two-year institutions would be rewarded with increased state funding for offering these remedial courses. And that is not good news for YSU, which does not have a two-year college.
Looking for a bridge
In 2004, YSU President David Sweet talked about the creation of a community college to serve as a bridge between high school and Youngstown State. We immediately endorsed the idea, arguing that with a reduction in state funding for four-year institutions and an increase in allocation for community colleges, Sweet could make a strong case.
We noted that Youngstown State is surrounded by Kent State University's branch campuses, which not only offer two-year associate degrees, but are entry points for students who intend to pursue four-year degrees on the main campus.
We applaud YSU's students, especially Walker, for recognizing the need to directly confront state legislators with the reality of higher education funding in Ohio and urge this area's legislative delegation to not only hear what they have to say, but to arrange meetings with House and Senate leaders and committee chairmen and women.
That said, we would advise Walker and other student government leaders to work closely with the Sweet administration in coming up with talking points for changing the higher education funding formula that now penalizes institutions like Youngstown State, and for making the case for a two-year college tied to YSU.

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