Students and faculty at Ohio University are going batty over an unusual problem: The school, they claim, is blowing $1.2 million to deal with the problem of bats in the university president’s house.
Recently, Deborah McDavis, wife of OU president Roderick McDavis, tripped and broke her foot while avoiding a bat that appeared in their school-owned house. In response, the school took the dramatic step of relocating the McDavises to an entirely new house, where they are being put up for $4,318 a month. However, according to The Athens News, the school is now considering buying the house and several surrounding lots for $1.2 million.
That has students up in arms, arguing that a new house for the president is an absurd extravagance when the college has so many other pressing needs.
More than 700 people are currently planning to attend a Faceb00k-organized rally to protest the new house.
“Ohio University buying a $1.2 million home to fix a ‘a bat problem’ is bat shit crazy,” the event description argues. “Meanwhile, there are decaying residence halls, classrooms, poor student wages and rising tuition costs. Why should students have to struggle to get by on loans while our highly paid administrators live in gross luxury?”
The new house’s price tag would be enough to cover a 4-year full tuition scholarship for 25 students.
Many professors aren’t happy either. A staggering 83 faculty members signed an open letter urging the school not to buy the new house.
“We feel strongly that this is very poor use of scarce resources,” the letter reads. “At a time when student debt is spinning out of control, and the funding of higher education is in crisis (a point emphasized recently by the Governor), it makes no sense to undertake such lavish expenditure. The Foundation exists to support scholarship and academic enrichment programs. We would suggest that this is the highest calling for $1.2 million.”
Critics raise several other objections besides better possible uses of the money. While the president’s old house is very close to campus, the new one is much farther away. In addition, the old house received a $620,000 renovation in the 1990s, while many of the school’s academic and residential buildings have gone far longer without major work.
The new house would be an additional perk for the already very well-compensated McDavis. In 2014 his salary jumped 8 percent to $465,000, and he was given an $85,000 bonus as well.
The university, however, claims that the expensive move was already planned before the recent bat infestation. The new presidential house, it says, will help attract better future presidents for the school and will provide a better location to meet with prospective donors. In essence, the college’s position is one of “If you buy it, they will come”: If the school buys this new president’s house, it believes the school will come out ahead thanks to a surge in donations.
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