The economic slump has been affecting the state of Michigan ever since the global recession of 2008; state funding for higher education decreased by almost a third between then and 2012. To make up for the continuous loss in funding, the University has again increased its fees (1.6 percent for in-state students and 3.4 percent for non-residents next year) and organized fundraising campaigns, like the $4 billion Victors for Michigan campaign (which had raised $2.2 billion as of June 1, 2014).

Since I personally believe that maintaining the high standards and quality of Michigan comes at a high cost (e.g., to attract top professors and to undertake more breakthrough research), I understand the aggressive donation campaigns and painful but necessary tuition increases undertaken by the University. However, I am concerned if we were to over-rely on major private donations, given the culture of donating.

Donations of six figures and higher don’t really go unnoticed and “unrewarded.” Several University buildings have been renamed in honor of their donors, and residences are constructed in order to fulfill the requests of the donors. Although I have to admit that Ross School of Business has a catchy name to it, and I believe that donors should have the first preference in deciding where their money should go, the naming rights of buildings are the least of my concerns.

Instead, to what extent will the University honor our donors? Will we stop at naming rights, or will we undergo self-censorship in order not to offend the “donors” who might pull the plug? Although I am positive that academic integrity will be upheld by the administration, the recently discovered “relationship” between the Florida State University Economics Department and the Charles Koch Foundation, in which the latter has reportedly attempted to influence the appointments of faculties through donations, makes me wonder if our integrity does have a price.

Imran Mohamedsha is an LSA junior.

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