The operating budget that The Board of Trustees adopted at Tuesday’s Finance and Facilities meeting calls for the reduction of expenses across all university divisions. The amount of money each division is expected to save is proportional to the divisions’ share of the general fund budget.
As enrollment and state funds continue to decrease, it makes sense that the university would try to save money. Our revenue streams are drying up, after all.
But, what doesn’t make sense is that the saving targets for each university division are proportional to their share of the general budget.
As a result of the reduction formula, Academic Affairs, which makes up the bulk of the university’s budget — 69 percent — is expected to save a total of $7.5 million. That number far exceeds the $1 million that Student Affairs — the next largest division — is expected to save.
Perhaps saving targets, then, shouldn’t be based off of equity; perhaps, they shouldn’t be based off keeping the division of funds the same even after cuts. Maybe the university should re-envision this aforementioned division.
This is hardly meant to attack the importance of the other divisions. Each and every one serve various functions that create a well-rounded university that offers its students auxiliary services, with the goal of creating the idealized college experience.
But therein lies the rub. These services, though important, are auxiliary services. They supplement a student’s education. Talking of the idealized college experiences, it seems to us that education is a pretty large portion of that ideal.
Academic Affairs makes up most of the university’s budget for a reason; it is the most important part of the budget. Education is Youngstown State University’s only product; education is what we are paying for. As students, we don’t all attend sporting events, and we don’t all utilize the Counseling Center. But we do all take classes.
Let us be realistic, there is a plethora of cynicism to go around the university these days and most of it does not focus on the state of the football stadium or the quality of the counseling services or the Rec. The primary complaints concern abundant apathy in classes, too many adjunct professors with no time on campus, and myriad other gripes concerning class quality or equipment common in academia.
We are not privy to all of the information that goes into making these decisions, so we can’t claim with 100 percent surety that there is not an excess of fat to be trimmed in academics. Yet, it seems ludicrous to assume that there will be no considerable damage if these cuts are made in full. Whether it is over one year or five is immaterial.
Budgets cuts are an arduous, galling process and no one walks away unscathed. But, even assuming a minute impact on the quality of education at YSU, we ask you if it is a blow that we can stand?