I am a die-hard Coug. The second I laid eyes on this campus, I knew it was going to be my second home. I am in my fifth semester here, and I could not be happier with my school.
Until I got an email from the Office of the President, Kirk Schulz.
"As you know from my communications during the past year, the University has been spending more money than it has brought in over the past four years."
I read the first few lines and almost tapped out of the email. These things happen all the time, right? Schools are always spending more money than they should, especially with new buildings being put up on every empty hill.
But something caught my eye further down the page.
"While we are working hard to minimize the impact of these cuts on students, faculty, staff, and the community, difficult decisions must be made. And while our personnel are the University’s most valuable resource, salaries and benefits make up approximately 85 percent of the budget."
Ok...budget cuts are one thing, but cutting personnel is a huge decision. It makes sense that 85 percent of the budget is salaries and benefits.
Here's the thing. A school is only as good as the instructors. You can have all the high-tech facilities and fancy buildings you want, but all that means absolutely nothing without faculty to lead and guide students. Ultimately, we are here to learn, not to check out the new napping pods and meditation rooms.
I kept reading the email and stopped short. I reread it several times to make sure I was reading it correctly.
"In its seventh year, the Performing Arts program has provided outstanding entertainment and arts for the University and the community. It has contributed significantly to the cultural richness of our community. However, ticket sales, grants, and gifts are not enough to keep it financially viable. More than $1.6 million in funding from University reserves has been used to support the program since its inception. This approach is simply not sustainable given other pressing budget challenges we face. Unfortunately, this means that positions will be eliminated when the Performing Arts program is ended at the close of this performance season."
Why is it that whenever a shortage of money is discussed, the arts are the first to go? Sure, STEM programs are important and we need doctors and scientists to survive, but what about our artists? What about the students who spend countless hours in Daggy perfecting scenes, running lines, and learning choreography? Why are they not important?
Last year, I was cast in the WSU Performing Arts' production of She Kills Monsters. It changed my life. I met people who will be my friends long after I graduate. I learned more about myself than sitting through biology ever could have taught me. I got to share something important, something magical with the rest of the world and it was amazing.
President Schulz, you want to take that away from us?
I don't understand.
Performing Arts isn't even the only area being destroyed.
"Temporary employees in the Office of Multicultural Student Services and in the Office of Equity and Diversity have been funded for multiple years using University reserves. Several two-year temporary positions were established to support an increasing number of diverse students. However, no permanent funding was designated at the time of their creation and no permanent funding has been identified since then. Again, a difficult decision is required since we cannot continue to fund these positions from our reserves. As a result, we will not be able to renew several temporary employment contracts."
Can someone please explain to me how cutting positions that increase the diversity on this campus is a good thing. A "difficult decision?" Please.
The icing on the cake. This is what really got me.
"These decisions are painful. They will disrupt lives, and the consequences of eliminating and reducing positions will ripple throughout our community. But as much as I and members of the leadership team regret the necessity of these actions, they must be taken in order to restore the University’s overall fiscal health."
Wait. So, you're telling us that these are decisions that will ruin lives and hurt the community...but don't worry, this will help our fiscal health?
I don't think so.
You are hurting your students. You are ruining a community that has worked so hard to make a name for itself. You are eliminating positions that exist to make WSU the school it claims to be. Improving this university's fiscal status means nothing if this is your solution.