Our view: Outsourcing isn’t the answer

DKS Editors

From now on, if you have a technology-related question on campus, you may end up speaking to someone located nowhere near Kent.

That’s because Kent State has outsourced part of the service provided by the Helpdesk to Presidium, an independent firm based in Virginia and Florida.

It’s clearly a cost-cutting move – the university estimates it will save $275,000 over the next five years. Presidium representatives will assist when the Helpdesk receives more calls than it can handle, saving Kent State from paying extra Helpdesk workers.

In theory, it’s a good idea. With the continuing downturn of the economy, the university should look to save wherever it can. Cutting costs like this can save students from paying more in tuition on a yearly basis.

But we disagree with the necessity of this particular cost-cutting venture.

University budgets are comprised of millions of dollars worth of costs. With that in mind, saving $275,000 over five years – an average of $55,000 a year – is just a drop in the bucket. With that in mind, the move to Presidium is unlikely to affect university finances very much.

If Kent State does want to cut costs, there are other places it can look. For example, the university plans to spend $3.3 million to renovate Risman Plaza beginning in the spring. Cutting back on some of the planned changes could allow the university to use some of the capital funds set aside for that project for other purposes.

Also, the Helpdesk provides a place where students can find employment. While the move to Presidium may not eliminate the existing jobs, it does prevent additional Kent State students from finding work with the Helpdesk.

With rising tuition and other costs, student jobs are always important.

Sure, those extra student employees would cost more money. But the benefit to students outweighs the cost to the university. That job could help a student afford his or her tuition money and keep him or her at the university.

We also wonder what will be lost in service by outsourcing the Helpdesk to Presidium.

Presidium may be able to add extra employees to man the phones when there are too many calls to the Helpdesk. But we wonder how much those employees can help students when they’re having a problem. Student employees are likely much more familiar with Kent State and its technology than a Presidium representative in Kentucky.

Additionally, while Presidium does allow students to schedule a time to be called back, we wonder how reliable that is. We’ve all sat around waiting for cable guys before.

We understand and empathize with the university’s need to cut costs. But with Presidium, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.