OSU -- Change your donor practices
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We were dismayed upon reading that OSU has accepted a historic donation to renovate the football stadium.
It is remarkably bad planning, bad press, and bad ethical judgment to accept a gift in support of new athletic facilities during a time when students, faculty, staff, and everyone in our Corvallis community are struggling with the economic and social realities of a pandemic. This is a pandemic that has caused many students to take on extreme financial risk to continue their education at OSU. This is a pandemic that has reduced faculty and staff pay, and the roadmap forward to ensuring cost-of-living increases in salary once the pandemic is over is unclear. This is a pandemic that has put an extraordinary burden on faculty with families -- in particular female faculty -- due to the scarcity and cost of childcare concomitant with a cut to our own salaries. It is a pandemic that has seen many of our support and facilities staff at OSU laid off or temporarily furloughed. To announce a $50 million gift to rebuild a portion of a football stadium with the vague promise that it will, in so many words, have trickle-down effects for students and faculty is not only insulting, but is also, simply put, a poor choice for a university during a time with such unprecedented and wide-ranging challenges to the landscape of higher education.
To be sure, under our current system permitting targeted donations, a donor may choose to give money as a donor pleases, and the specific terms of this donation were not clarified in the gift announcement. Nevertheless, we understand that, in addition to the donor gift, the renovation of the stadium is also expected to be funded by an unspecified amount of Educational and Grant (E&G) money. These are funds that come to the university from the legislature and from student tuition. In a moment when students are experiencing unprecedented challenges because of the pandemic, including job loss and family economic pressures, and when state funding of public education is at an all time low, the diversion of these scarce and ever-scarcer resources to pay for a stadium remodel is not only tone-deaf but also fundamentally unethical. College students’ mental health needs have seen a dramatic rise and student debt has reached an astonishing $1.5 trillion. The E&G funds would better serve the OSU student body if diverted to expand CAPS services, more fully fund our Cultural Resource Centers, Learning Centers, and the Library, and, perhaps most importantly, invest in student scholarships and tuition remittance.
We the undersigned believe that accepting this gift during the current social crisis ignores the real needs of the OSU community. We ask that university administrators draft and publish a plan to make equivalent financial commitments to services that actually meet the needs of OSU students, faculty, and staff, including those services named in this letter. Finally, we ask that, going forward, OSU make changes to how the university courts, accepts, and uses large donations.
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