Students should be heard

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Murray State News.

It seems everywhere you look these days, the language of belt-tightening is in the air. “Austerity,” “slimming down,” “cutbacks,” – these are just a few of the ways that budget trimming are being presented in one way or another from academia to the political scene to the business world.

The University is no exception. With state funding scaled back as a result of recessionary pressure, University officials announced the creation of “budget review teams,” consisting of members of the administration, faculty and student body, that have been tasked with making the University operate on a leaner budget.

We have seen the University try to make up shortfalls with increases in tuition and cutbacks alike. It would be fair to say that as a result of the process thus far, we are far from enthusiastic about the University’s course going forward.

We aren’t blind to the facts; something has to be done. We understand the University is consistently pulling in less money from the state government as a result of budget tightening efforts in Frankfort, but we are nevertheless weary at the prospect of further cuts to our academic and athletic programs.

It is admirable that the University is at least trying to get some student input on the process with the creation of the budget review teams. Each review team has student representation, but we question if that representation is actually fair for much of the student body.

The selection of student members of the budget review teams came from an application process advertised over the summer in the University’s weekly newsletter, Roundabout U.

In addition to being announced in a document that most students see and move to the email trash bin without much thought, the fact the application process was held over the summer raises questions as to how serious University officials are about student concerns regarding budget cuts.

Why hold the application process in the summer if most students are at home? Why announce the process in a low-key publication? Student participation in the budget review process raises far many more questions than it purports to answer.

We aren’t upset about the budget review itself, but we’re weary about where this process might lead. Cutting back to satisfy our financial needs as a university is a necessity, but we must be careful not to endanger the educational environment in the process.

Students must remain engaged in this process if they are to have an impact on it.