Kent State needs a watchdog

Ted Hamilton

Imagine being President Bush or a superintendent for a local school. The newspapers watching your every move and questioning every penny spent. If you are a superintendent, any severely questionable spending amounts to a PR nightmare and the potential to lose thousands of dollars from failed levies (as my school district has found out time and time again).

But where is Kent State’s watchdog?

There are student groups such as BUS which supposedly act as the watchdog for black students, but where are the groups to watch the university’s spending of public funds? I question whether a lot of the money the university spends actually improves student life or the quality of education. The only watchdog seems to be the Akron Beacon Journal, yet university spending still goes unchecked.

As I pointed out in my Jan. 25 column “More to salaries than donations and tuition money,” the combined salaries of the top administrators is $1,316,140. President Lefton is at the top of the money-making totem pole, but there is more money coming to him. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Lefton has added two executive positions to his staff, as well as hired a special assistant to the tune of $150,000 a year. The former president did not need a special assistant and made less money – why does Lefton need more people to do the job he is being paid a helluva lot of money to do (or not do in this case)?

I am sure students still remember the European trip they (along with taxpayers) helped pay for, but do they know Lefton also gets a housing allowance of $50,000 a year? He is not strapped for cash, so why does he need an allowance of any kind?

The university, on the other hand, is, or had better keep, increasing tuition every year to help pay for special assistants. The university also calls alumni for donations and – as my friend Molly found out – sometimes calls for donations before a student has even graduated. It is ridiculous to think a student fresh out of Kent State is going to want to donate money when it is going right into the pockets of the school’s administrators.

It is more than just salaries and special assistants. The second floor of the library was recently renovated. Throwing a bone to the students, we got a few new study rooms because there are always so many people lined up for them (read that line with dripping sarcasm). The executive offices – not too shabby before – were expanded, and two offices were added for the new executive positions. Is this really where tax money and donations should be going, to make life easier for the administrators?

I am not arguing the administration is not doing its job; after all, enrollment is up. What I am arguing is the monies being spent are not improving student life. Instead of being thrown a bone every once in awhile and getting a new study room, I think we need to regularly be thrown a steak because it is our tax money, donations and tuition funding Kent State.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

CHECK OUT Jan. 25 column.