Temporary student “residents” should not have a say in a community’s long-term direction.
This item went up at Watchdog.org with minor editing earlier this afternoon.
Ohio’s General Assembly is considering a measure which would grant in-state tuition to out-of-state college students if they so much as pretend to be interested in voting.
Specifically, the Columbus Dispatch reported on April 23 that under a Republican budget amendment approved the previous week, “an institution must charge in-state tuition if it provides an out-of-state student with a letter or utility bill that the student can use to show residency and vote in Ohio.”
You read that right. As described, this proposal would force a school to charge its in-state tuition rate to any out-of-state student who asks for documentation certifying his or her presence there. From all appearances, those student recipients don’t even need to bother registering to vote to get this break, let alone cast a ballot. Out-of-state students at Ohio State wouldn’t even have to get out of bed, as they “can input information online and have a utility bill emailed to them, which they can print and take to the polling site.”
Although the idea originated with Republicans, it really shouldn’t be characterized as coming from the left or the right. Outer space would be more like it.
At least one Democrat’s reaction is from space’s nether regions. Kathleen Clyde of Kent, a university town, acts as if the measure is an attempt to suppress out-of-state student votes and not a self-evident attempt to increase their number. She actually took to the floor of the House to incoherently accuse Republicans of “forcing universities to do your voter-suppression dirty work for you.”
Please. Bruce E. Johnson, president of the state’s Inter-University Council, as paraphrased by the Dispatch, described what would really happen:
… every out-of-state student will demand one (a letter or utility bill), and those who don’t get it will sue to force the university to provide it.
The move would all but end the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at Ohio’s public institutions of higher learning.
I have been unable to identify a good reason why this proposal shouldn’t be laughed out of Columbus. As for reasons to oppose it, everyone in Ohio should find something objectionable.
Most obviously, there’s the lost tuition. To cite just one example, out-of-state tuition at Miami University in Oxford, at $29,158 according to the latest annual survey done by U.S. News, is over $15,500 higher than its in-state charge of $13,595. Miami alone estimates that it could see its tuition income reduced by $60 million annually. The grand total reduction statewide is an estimated $370 million.
So who is going to absorb this difference? Students and their families are already stretched thin, something at least two of the state’s universities, Ohio State and the University of Toledo, have recognized by freezing tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year. Earlier this month, students at Ohio University in Athens protested trustees’ plans to raise tuition by 1.6 percent and room rates by 3.5 percent.
Buckeye State taxpayers certainly shouldn’t be asked to cough up any more money, especially for an idea as misguided as this one. The reason out-of-state tuition differentials exist is that the parents of students from other states aren’t Ohio taxpayers. Letting out-of-state students pay the same rate unfairly forces Ohio’s taxpayers to pay a large share of the cost of their college education.
The elephant in the room, pun intended, is voter fraud. It is already far too easy to vote in multiple states without getting caught. Now every out-of-state university student in Ohio would face that temptation.
Most fundamentally, the fact that an idea like this would even appear on the radar, let alone get proposed as legislation, demonstrates how so many people who should know better have completely lost touch with the basic concepts of responsible citizenship.
Let’s face the obvious. The vast majority of college students at residential universities have little if any personal stake in the long-term well-being of the cities and towns in which their schools happen to be located. They are mostly, like it or not, more like transients than residents. After they graduate, or in all too many cases drop out, most will only occasionally visit these towns. Regardless of whether they get a break for doing so, thirty-day residency laws which make voting easier for adults who have moved or relocated should not be unethically abused by students who should be paying attention to developments back home and voting there as absentees.
In the real world, the chances that out-of-state student voters will adequately educate themselves on state, county, and local issues are extremely low — and even if they do, they should not have the ability to influence issues which won’t affect them personally or financially. For example, there is no reason why student votes for a public school property tax levy, especially if they live on campus, should cancel out the votes of resident adult property owners who oppose it.
Hopefully, this idea will be quickly rejected once its negative impacts become more widely known.