Higher Education

OCPA calls for state investigation of OU student fee use

Staff | January 10, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 10, 2024) — Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small today called on state lawmakers to launch an investigation into the University of Oklahoma’s use of mandatory student fees following a recent report indicating student fees were wasted placing women’s menstrual products in men’s bathrooms on campus.

“For the average Oklahoma family, there is no meaningful difference between paying mandatory student fees and paying mandatory tuition to attend a state school,” Small said. “With both tuition and fees, Oklahomans rightfully expect that any payments will be used to benefit the education of the student, but we now know that OU instead redirected some of these funds to activities that served no educational purpose, wasted money, and indirectly reduced funding for true educational needs.”

In a statement provided to The Frontier, Emily Carr, president of OU Women’s Health Advocacy, recently admitted that her group has received mandatory student-fee funds from the OU Student Government Association. That money, either directly or indirectly, paid to place women’s menstrual products in OU bathrooms, including men’s bathrooms on campus.

Carr effectively acknowledged that placing women’s menstrual products in men’s bathrooms was wasteful, admitting that “due to a lack of use, those stations are no longer there.”

“If OU officials were willing to waste student funds in such an egregious manner in this instance, one wonders how many other examples of waste abound,” Small said. “Furthermore, lawmakers should determine who authorizes outside groups to place materials in student bathrooms, and what if any limiting principles are employed. If OU is allowing some groups to provide materials in campus bathrooms but not others, university officials may have exposed the state to the threat of successful lawsuits for illegal discrimination.”

The disclosure that OU student fees may have been wasted placing menstrual products in men’s bathrooms comes as other uses of mandatory student fees have drawn scrutiny.

In less than one year, the University of Oklahoma has spent at least $56,000 on three separate drag-queen shows, according to documents obtained through open-record requests by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Mandatory student fees paid for the events.

Tuition and student fees at OU have skyrocketed in recent years, exceeding national norms, according to a recent review of public universities conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that between 2002 and 2022 enrollment at OU increased 15 percent but tuition increased by 36 percent even after adjusting for inflation. Once student fees were included, the combined rate of growth was even more dramatic and ranked among the highest in the nation.

“At the University of Oklahoma, per-student tuition and fees rose 166%,” the Journal reported, “the most of any flagship.”


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