University needs cost-saving ideas, not proposals for new spending
April 18, 2011 —
University President Eric Gilbertson responded to questions and suggestions from students at the latest Presidentís Open Forum. These comments were interesting because they draw attention to student concerns, but they are far more interesting because of what they tell us about attitudes and beliefs circulating in the campus community when it comes to spending or saving University funds.
Two suggestions in particular stood out to us: extend the hours of the Zahnow Library, and cut printing and postage costs by eliminating hardcopy overdue notices.
The first recommendation suggests that the University spend more money on labor for library workers who would be needed to serve students during the proposed extended hours. In addition to that cost, we can add the increase in utility use for the extra hours of operation as well as other costs that those outside of the library staff may not anticipate with such a change.
It may be true that students would make use of the additional hours of operation at the library. However, the current hours of operation seem to serve most of the campus adequately at the moment. The same is true of other campus services.
Expanding services in the library and elsewhere could be a good idea, but with a the anticipated state budget cuts to public universities, now is not the right time to spend funds on additional services we want and do not require.
Students traveled to Lansing during the budget debate to advocate for public university funding, and it would reassure Michigan taxpayers and state representatives to know that the funds students fight for wouldnít be squandered at a time when residents and business owners are tightening their belts.
On a positive note, the second suggestion we mentioned takes a completely opposite approach to the first. Rather than encouraging more spending, it offers a solution to make delivery of overdue notices more cost efficient by cutting back on paper and postage cost. These are the kind of practical ideas we need right now, ideas that help us improve existing services.
In many ways, itís like balancing your personal finances. When you want someting new, you either have to cut the money from somewhere else in your budget or earn more money to pay for what you want.
Perhaps the money saved on paper and postage could be put toward improving campus services, such as extended library hours and increased wifi access.
The Vanguard would like to see a Solutions table next to the Gripe Table, or at least a forum open to cost-saving suggestions from students and faculty. Itís better to cut costs and put that savings toward additional services than it is to raise tuition or housing rates or introducing new fees to fund them.