Editorials

Editorial: National, campus financial models are unsustainable

With the deadline looming, House Republicans have repeatedly said they will compromise with Democrats and aren’t seeking to fight an impending raise of the debt ceiling. It is certain that our national debt will only grow ever larger, casting a greater shadow on the generations who will have to pay it off one day. In parallel news on campus, the Corporation recently announced a 3.8 percent tuition hike for fiscal year 2015. This increase will raise undergraduate costs to over $59,000 a year, an exorbitant amount that is not unique to Brown.

To some, the national and campus news may seem relatively unrelated. One affects every citizen of the United States; the other, merely the 6,000 or so undergraduates who attend Brown and their parents. But, in fact, both announcements demonstrate a worrying pattern. We — whether that “we” means Brown students or American citizens — are willing to put off the requisite budgetary tightening until a later date over and over again, which serves only to exacerbate the problem. Our national debt can’t balloon uncontrollably forever; neither can college tuition rates around the country. These debt-building policies and rising costs beg the question: When will we be willing to say enough is enough?

Both of the recent announcements will require someone to pay higher costs down the line, and the responsibility to repay these debts will fall in the hands of our generation. We’re the ones who will end up with thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and we’re the ones who will be paying off the massive national debt those before us have accrued. As we enter the workforce, the choice will soon be in our hands, just as it is currently in the hands of our parents. Do we perpetuate the current system and continue to put off the tightening of the economic belt? Or is it time to demand some sort of structural change, a move toward efficient and pragmatic allocation of resources?

As the rising generation poised to take our places in larger society, we have the opportunity to begin calling for the latter. In terms of our national debt, we need to be the ones to figure out smarter ways to spend. How can we make a dollar spent by the government stretch further and reach more people? The political sphere too often consists of ideological debates concerning whether the government should spend money, but we need to be the generation that emphasizes how the government spends funds. We need to be more concerned with finding better ways to run a government, rather than entangling ourselves in these bitter and entrenched philosophical debates.

Calling for more efficiency in Brown’s administration is one way in which we, as students of this university, can begin to make an impact in this regard. We can push for more of a shared services model, as has been employed at the University of Michigan and which will likely save that institution about $17 million a year. It would entail connecting aspects of the University that can be integrated readily. We can protest lavish spending by the University on unnecessary projects and administrative bureaucracy. It’s time to make our voices heard; if we’re the ones who will be paying these costs, we need to do our best to reduce them. It’s time to say, “Enough.”

 

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.

  • idea loogy

    “In terms of our national debt”? The deficit is plunging. The debt has ceased to be a short- or even medium-term problem and is so so so so much less than unemployment.

    “Our national debt can’t balloon uncontrollably forever”–it’s not.

    “We need to be more concerned with finding better ways to run a government, rather than entangling ourselves in these bitter and entrenched philosophical debates.”

    Yikes. A report from this university estimated that the wars in Iraq and Af-Pak would cost $3.2-$4.0 TRILLION dollars. Should our generation really be talking about how to fight the next one for, say, $3 trillion?

    This is ideology. And it matters, and it’s waaay more effective to take an actual stand than to give some vague call for “efficiency”, which is the easiest thing in the world to demand.

    “We can protest lavish spending by the University on unnecessary projects and administrative bureaucracy.” That is an ideological position. That affordability matters more than luxury is an ideological position. It’s not a call for “efficiency”–a call for “efficiency” would demand that Nelson had cost $45 million instead of $50 million.

    “We can push for more of a shared services model”–the UMich faculty hated shared services, and for good reason. It screws around with staffing in a seriously harmful way. Plus that $17 million dollar figure you cited is old old old (great memory? lazily Googling “college efficiency”?), since plunging to a few million dollars per year. For a university with more than four times our undergrad enrollment. They’ll be lucky to make up their consulting fees. The project’s been delayed indefinitely.

    We have to “entangle ourselves in these bitter and entrenched philosophical debates” because those are the debates that matter.

    • Erik

      You should really get out into the real world some time. The deficit has “plunged” from trillions to hundreds of billions…which is like saying the amount by which I’m going deeper into credit card debt is “plunging”. Never mind I’m borrowing more every day and I’m effectively bankrupt. Give us all a break and go back to bed.