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Editorial Board

‘Kent State experience’ not enough

Facing a projected $5 million budget deficit over the next two years, Kent State’s top officials met Monday to decide how to counter the pending budget crunch.

They proposed to enhance the “Kent State experience” as “very special,” which would justify the increased expense compared to community colleges and other post-high school educational opportunities. They believe increased enrollment and retention will solve their budget woes. Admittedly, students do equal money — both from the students and from the state — in university economics, but $5 million cannot be borne on the backs of students. University officials must engage in creative discussions about what cuts can be made, while maintaining the sanctity of a university education.

Like families in hard times, cuts must come from all around and not just from some unfortunate faction of the university family. This means top university officials might need to take a pay cut along with all other administrative and staff personnel on campus. When it comes time for Dr. Cartwright’s annual pay raise, which is typically between 2 and 7 percent, she needs to decline and even offer to take a retrograde pay cut equivalent to the cuts the state are making.

By increasing enrollment and retention and by cutting some of the fat off the salaries of most of the university, Kent State should be able to maintain the same level of excellence, while leaving room for further academic growth.

The worst possibility of the budget crunch would be the elimination of faculty jobs and academic departments. As a liberal education school, Kent State needs to maintain well-rounded, renaissance-style educational opportunities. The nightmare would be a conversation among university officials about which departments are more important than others. Using the same family metaphor enacted above, this translates into asking which child should be kicked out of the family.

Most Kent State students come from honest homes where occasional budget crunches have occurred. They understand the mindset of tightening the belt a few notches and will understand this crisis better if they see everyone making sacrifices.

The worst thing a student in the future could come to believe is that his or her classwork or academic passion isn’t valued by the university because it doesn’t bring in as much money as, say for instance, technology fields. If such a condition were to occur, the university can forget any attempts at retaining these students.

Since the university appears to be loading all its eggs into the obscure basket of the “Kent State experience,” it will need to guarantee that this experience will be both pleasurable and personally beneficial for its students. Therefore, it only seems reasonable that university officials begin to think specifically about how their jobs directly related to the students they’re trying to serve. It will not do for students to feel the financial crunch and see on the front page of the Stater that Dr. Cartwright has received yet another raise.

In the end, tough times are ahead. The best the university and students can do is to prepare mentally for it, write their representatives in Columbus and look for places where they can make sacrifices, whether it be in the services offered to students or in the paychecks of the university’s officials.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.