Sep 192010
 
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

Last week The Washington Post announced that 1 in 7 Americans are now in poverty.

The domino recession holds the majority of the populace hostage. Our flagging economy has subsequently annihilated the state’s budget for funding higher education. Hyperbolic warnings of austerity and crackdowns from CSU President Tony Frank’s administration suggest that belt tightening is occurring. Fillet the largess of yesteryear and stress efficient simplicity.

Amid this terse climate of promotion prevention, pay freezes and job cuts, wastefulness continues. Nonsensical budgeting has led us to punish professors. In replacement, we get costly modernity.

As a student with classrooms in the new Behavioral Sciences Building, I’m consistently impressed with the environment. Natural light floods the main corridors and there’s always peace and tranquility on the floors above. On the “grand opening” of the building on Sept. 15, I reach a fulcrum point. Claiming effective cuts are in progress, a welcoming sign reads that the administration has built public showers in the basement.

For whom may I ask are these for? Bikers and those exercising to work?

Something is strange here. On the one hand we’re crying bloody murder — the state has robbed us of necessary funding. On the other, we’re spending students’ facilities fees to erect a water park in the foundation.

My anger is hardly assuaged by the school’s proclivity for large, high-definition, flat-screen TVs. Two of them hang from my beloved psychology office walls. Each measure about 50 inches and are limited to displaying a bouquet of pleasant pictures of campus. At that length and quality, they’re easily spending $1,500 or more for each. If it were two TVs, I wouldn’t be confronting this issue. But they’re around the entire building, study rooms and front lobby included.

Our campus has an obsession with looking technologically savvy by propping up TVs –– they dot our campus’ landscape. For the bureaucrats above, TVs seem to create a trite air of the 21st century. But the vast majority of them present static images or run banal loops meant to captivate an audience for a mere millisecond.

As they decide to add-on to the Morgan Library, I’m stunned by the higher-ups’ need to spend. Seventeen million dollars will be taxed through student fees for the impending project. The most prominent addition will be space and 24-hour computer rooms. If space concerns are enveloping the minds of the futile, then look no further than the Computer Science and Behavioral Sciences Buildings –– both are pulling traffic from the library.

I’m envisioning a bureaucratic divide that’s leading to flagrant spending. As Frank said in his fall address, students are now responsible for two-thirds of tuition. If we are truly staring down the barrel of hundreds of millions in state funded shortfalls, and students are footing more of the bill, why can’t we stop superfluous, elective spending?

Students, we are given the burgeoning costs of fanciful design. A roughly a 9 percent tuition increase will occur for next year –– it’s drafted in our FY11 budget. Meanwhile, resident graduate students will witness an unprecedented 15-percent surge. As we compound this burden on our shoulders, professors will make do with “flat” salaries.

The attraction to this institution, for both students and professors, will dwindle. Amid higher costs and troubling state legislature proposals (see 60, 61 and 101), the renovations will be in vein.

In this time of disparity and hopelessness, we shouldn’t look to gimmicks like showers, TVs or building add-ons. Living, working and studying austerely is doable, even admirable in these suffocating economic times.

I’m proud to be a CSU Ram and happy to have Frank navigating these tumultuous times. But the administration must reestablish a spendthrift philosophy.

Samuel Lustgarten is a senior psychology major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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