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Editorial: Cuts at the Swearer Center

Two weeks ago, The Herald reported that the Swearer Center for Public Service is being forced to make significant budget cuts. The Swearer Center will lay off four of its nineteen employees, according to the Providence Journal's news blog. The full impact of the cuts is still being determined, and programs may be eliminated or restructured in the weeks and months ahead. 

The Swearer Center is one of Brown's most important institutions. It facilitates a wide variety of local service opportunities for students and other members of the Brown community. Over the years, the Swearer Center has paired thousands of Brown students with projects and organizations in Providence and throughout the state. 

The budget cutbacks are unfortunate primarily because they will hamper efforts that benefit area residents. But the cuts are also disappointing because public service is crucial to our identity as an institution. Brown prides itself on having a student body that is deeply concerned about the welfare of others and eager to change society for the better. And the Swearer Center is an essential element of this commitment. 

The Swearer Center acts as a vital liaison between Brown and members of the community around us — senior citizens, inner-city students, and victims of the recent flood, to name just a few examples. By working with the Swearer Center, students remain in touch with the world beyond Brown and gain experience that is different from anything they might learn in a classroom.  

Many in the Brown community have already voiced opposition to the cuts. The Journal's news blog reported that over 250 alums sent a letter to President Ruth Simmons expressing their disapproval. Students, alumni, and others have started a Facebook group to show support for the Swearer Center. And last week, a group of students assembled on Main Green to discuss the recent announcement. We certainly admire this passion for the Swearer Center and are glad to see that such an important institution is cherished here on campus. 

The Swearer Center's budget is funded primarily through its own endowment, which is separate from the University's, Roger Nozaki MAT '89, associate dean of the College and director of the Swearer Center, said in an email to the editorial page board. Advocates for the Swearer Center must keep this in mind when approaching administrators to discuss solutions for keeping the Swearer Center at maximum strength. 

Although the financial structure of the University and its affiliated institutions can sometimes be tricky, the need for immediate action in this case is clear-cut. The Swearer Center is simply too important to lose significant resources. While we understand that the University is itself in a tough financial situation and money is tight everywhere, we urge the administration to help plug the gap. We also strongly encourage prospective donors to consider giving to the Swearer Center. 

Ultimately, someone or some group must step up and ensure that the recession will not be allowed to compromise a core aspect of Brown's institutional identity. 

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to



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