Our third bargaining session with OSU began with a recap of Session 2 (see blog HERE), which was then boiled down to 4 questions posed by CGE’s team:  1) What should the Ecampus waiver include – tuition and/or fees (spoiler: we want both); 2) How or by what mechanism will they be waived; 3) What limitations will be placed on the waiver; and 4) How are we going to communicate this to colleges, departments, faculty and students so that the waiver is actually used.  Admin was hesitant to talk about the mechanism for waiver, but we’re interested in the subject because of the incentives for use or disuse that the mechanism may create.  The admin mentioned that including fees in the waiver may affect the reach of the waiver, as including the fees would be effectively increasing the tuition for Ecampus courses ~20%.  We knew this of course, because the high cost of those fees is exactly what’s stopping grads from taking Ecampus courses in the first place!  OSU brought up that any course required for a degree is also offered on site.  Right, but that fails to take into account how often they’re offered and the fact that maybe, just maybe, a course that’s not required might be helpful to a grad’s education.

We then moved on to a discussion of the criteria we would need to use to evaluate any possible options we come up with to address the Ecampus tuition waiver issue.  Affordability is a top concern, both for the student/employee, PI, department, college, and as we all know (after hearing it over and over last bargaining round) PIs have to manage their grant resources.  Naturally, the administration’s team is really worried that we can’t predict the future and how changing the waiver might change its use (um, wasn’t that the point of the multiple-year trial period?).

Turns out, the Provost Council’s going to have to meet to discuss the possibilities before we can bargain this issue further – and yet we continued.  Besides affordability, both sides are worried about the implications of the waiver; how we set it up will affect how it’s used (or not used) just like it has been under the trial period.  Since some departments and PIs seem to think they can block Ecampus waivers, even though that’s in violation of the contract in effect, CGE wants to see contract language that minimizes unfair blocks to the waiver.  Turns out, we’re probably going to have to have ANOTHER pilot program, looking toward (final) permanence next bargaining round, 2016.


[Post by Lizz Hardardt]

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