To help give students a better understanding of the economic crisis, a panel was held Friday to discuss how the crisis not only affects those on Wall Street, but also those on State Street.
LSA Student Government and the Michigan Economics Society held “The Financial Crisis and You” Friday in the Rackham Amphitheatre as a way to keep Michigan students informed about the financial crisis and how it may impact them directly.
The event began with a few prepared remarks about the economic crisis from each of the three speakers for the night — Chair of the Economics Department Prof. Linda Tesar, Economics Prof. Jim Adams and Provost Teresa Sullivan.
Tesar gave her take on the financial crisis and urged students to use the difficult economic times to build up their résumés by pursuing a master’s degree or looking into service options like the Peace Corps.
“This is a very good time to invest in your human capital,” Tesar said. “It’s going to be a rough market out their for a while.”
When Adams took the podium after Tesar, he used the time to place the financial crisis in the context of a college student.
“I want to focus on you as a student and what it means to have the University as an experience, as an opportunity to think of the financial crisis in a way that is very different,” Adams said.
Both Tesar and Adams stressed the importance of looking to the past in order to help people cope with the present.
“Some of this is déjà vu all over again, and I think sometimes we forget to look back into history for the lessons that are right there in front of us,” Tesar said.
Sullivan took the podium next with a PowerPoint presentation and a few words about how the crisis may impact student finances. She then explained where the University budget comes from and for what aspect of an education each part is used.
Following these prepared remarks, a question-and-answer session commenced. The questions were fielded by the three speakers, along with Margaret Rodriguez from the Office of Financial Aid and Beth Blanco from the UM Credit Union.
One audience member asked why the University doesn’t increase the number of out-of-state students to make up for the lost money from declining government funding.
Sullivan responded that radical changes in the number of out-of-state students accepted would inevitably anger people who believe students from Michigan should take priority in the admissions process. She added, however, that this might change as the economic situation worsens.
“I think that hard times might (result) in general changes in that policy,” Sullivan said.
Another question touched on the issue of how students can educate themselves about financial issues.
“The University does provide entrance counseling and exit counseling for students who borrow money,” Sullivan said. “We are also trying to educate students that if they do need to borrow money, we’re the place to start.”
LSA senior Ruotao Wang, who attended the event and serves on the Student Budget Advisory Committee — a group primarily made up of students convened by the Provost to discuss budgetary issues — said he felt this event was important to help educate students on how their tuition is spent.
“I feel like a lot more students are now aware of where (tuition money) actually goes, where it can’t go and some of the issues we are currently facing,” he said.
LSA junior Fiona Spezia, who was also at the event, said she agreed that it was useful, but wished the panel had provided more concrete answers.
“I think that it went really well, and I got some good information,” Spezia said. “But I also feel like some of the questions weren’t really answered, that the answers were kind of fluffy.”
Karey Quarton, who serves on LSA Student Government’s Academic Affairs Committee and was one of the event’s organizers said that she thought it was a success, but hopes the discussion will continue.
“I think starting a dialogue was important,” Quarton said. “But I hope students will continue to ask questions, because this is the first step, this isn’t the solution.”