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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cost of OSU outpaced inflation letter to the editor

Thomas Kraemer letter Ed Ray's salary Barometer Nov. 3, 2014, p. 7 PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) letter to the editor as printed by Thomas Kraemer, OSU Class of 1977, Founder OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, "President Ray, Salary Increase," OSU Barometer, Nov. 3, 2014, p. 7. I read with the interest the OSU student newspaper opinion pieces by Staff, "Editorial: Measure 86 could combat tuition crisis," OSU Barometer, Oct. 30, 2014, p. 7 posted Oct. 29, 2014, Claire McMorris, "Ray's salary increases," OSU Barometer, Oct. 29, 2014, p. 1, 4 Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 8:59 pm Updated: 11:21 pm, Wed Oct 29, 2014 and Staff, "Board of trustees discusses increased reporting of sexual misconduct, approves salary increase for Ray," OSU Barometer, Oct. 29, 2014, p. 1. 4 posted Oct. 21, 2014, which prompted me to write the following letter to the editor:

In 1976, I knew many Oregon State University resident students who were able to pay for college with only the cash they earned while working summers as a choker setter for a logging crew or on the green-chain in a lumber mill, but doing this today is impossible.

The reason is because, while student wages have kept up with inflation over the last 40 years, the cost of going to OSU has risen at a rate of more than twice inflation because Oregon Legislators have reduced the taxpayer's funding of OSU to pay for more tax cuts, expecting it would be made up with more charitable donations, scholarships, student loans, and family wealth.

Anybody trained in the mathematics of finance can verify my calculations are based on the U.S. government's "CPI inflation calculator," which says something costing $1 in 1976 costs more than $4 today, and the facts that OSU tuition and fees in 1976 dollars were $720 for a 9-month school year compared to $9,123 for 2014-2015, plus the actual room and board cost of Weatherford Hall in 1976 was $1,140 versus approximately $10,000 for the equivalent today.

President Ed Ray has done an excellent job restructuring OSU finances given this new reality and he deserves every penny of his salary, which would be paltry if he were a company CEO with equivalent responsibilities.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, OSU Class of 1977, Founder OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, "President Ray, Salary Increase," OSU Barometer, Nov. 3, 2014, p. 7)

On the same day and on the same page my letter was printed there was also printed a student editorial by Staff, "Ray's salary increase poorly communicated," Daily Barometer, Oct. 3, 2014, p. 7 posted Nov. 2, 2014

My first draft of the letter was more opinionated than the one I submitted, which I hoped could be read and understood by both conservative and liberal students -- my first draft spelled out these budget cuts for public colleges were led by Republicans and if students wanted a more democratic (with a lower case 'd') access to higher education, then they are going to have to elect representatives to the state legislature who will raise OSU funding instead of lowering it because Republicans "hate those liberal university types" who are educated enough to stand up to greedy plutocratic politicians and theocrats. I realized that the limited space of a letter would not permit me to explore this idea in a way too easily dismissed by conservative students who are the ones who must grow up and undo the anti-intellectualism agenda started by President Nixon and President Reagan along with other Republicans over the last few decades -- you don't have to be stupid or greedy to be a conservative.

I had previously sent a similar letter to my local daily newspaper -- See previous post OSU costs outpace inflation due to Republican tax cuts (4/18/11)

Some related links of interest: