The University’s Division of Student
Affairs has received much scrutiny and criticism over the past
year. Due to the University’s continuing budget crisis, cuts
were proposed to student services, and groups such as Student
Voices in Action and Our Voices Count arose to protest such cuts.
The University recently released a 2005 student affairs budget that
has managed to avoid most proposed cuts and partially restore some
funding that was excised last year. This budget exemplifies the
positive results that can come from student activism coupled with
the University administration’s willingness to listen to and
compromise with students.

Mira Levitan

Surely, the new budget will still meet with some criticism.
While funding for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness
Center is being increased by $70,000, for instance, there remains
debate over changes to the services provided to sexual assault
survivors. Yet, overall, it is difficult to criticize the
University’s financial commitment to student services in the
current budget. Despite having originally planned for a 5 percent
reduction in funding, the Division of Student Affairs has actually
increased funding for a variety of services. Perhaps most
prominently, $800,000 has been set aside for renovations to the
William Monroe Trotter House and an additional $200,000 allocated
for immediate repairs. This likely would not have occurred without
the determination and stalwart opposition of student groups to cuts
made to student services.

However, at the announcement of the newly allocated funds,
Michigan Student Assembly President Jason Mironov stated that the
funds would allow MSA to withdraw its request to petition the
regents to raise student fees by $1 in order to raise money for the
Trotter House. As students have already voiced their approval for
this plan during the last MSA election, abandoning this effort
creates a lost opportunity. The plan could be modified to raise
money for multicultural programming at the Trotter House in
addition to $80,000 currently allocated for the same purpose. The
extra $1 fee would amount to roughly $40,000. That number could
substantially aid efforts to create and execute numerous
multicultural events. The soon to be renovated Trotter House will
need ample events to take advantage of its increased capacities.
Therefore, MSA should still submit their request to the University
Board of Regents.

The entire debate concerning the Student Affairs budget,
however, is merely symptomatic of the far larger problem of
inadequate state funding for the University. While the University
has continued to grow, state funding has not increased
proportionately. Indeed, the University has faced significant cuts
in state funding in recent years and this creates an unfair
financial burden upon students and their families. Decades ago, the
University used the slogan “An uncommon education for the
common man.” Now, however, tuition is amongst the highest for
state universities in the country, and a University education
necessitates great hardship or is entirely out of reach for many
lower and middle-income families. From the state’s
perspective, it is counterproductive to under-fund an institution
that is vital in creating the highly educated workforce that will
be necessary to maintain the state’s economic health in the
coming century. It is pleasing that the University’s current
Student Affairs budget is a compromise that should help ease the
acrimonious relations between the Division of Student Affairs and
the student body. Yet, were the University adequately funded by the
state, there would never have been a conflict in the first
place.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *