University must seek creative ways to budget

During the ’90s boom, colleges’ endowments, investments and infrastructures grew, with schools adding faculty and staff, increasing their class sizes, and undertaking ambitious plans for expansion and growth. But in the last few years, as the economy has taken a downward turn, colleges have been forced to reshuffle and scramble to find solutions to projected deficits. Yale is no exception. With a slowed rate of endowment growth and ambitious plans for the University’s future — including the remodeling of the residential colleges, the Science Hill initiative, and the planned hiring of new faculty — Yale is facing an anticipated $30 million deficit, resulting in a significant increase in the undergraduate term bill and a reduction of University employees.

We understand the need for the University to both cut costs and increase revenue. But, as we expect such cost-cutting to continue, we hope the University works toward creative solutions that pose minimal costs to students, faculty and staff.

For the 2004-2005 academic year, the undergraduate term bill will increase from $37,000 to $38,850, which represents a five percent increase, the largest in Levin’s decade-long tenure. Despite initial promises to the contrary, the University will also be forced to lay off employees. Officials had hoped to cut the 200 to 250 jobs necessary primarily through attrition, but last week the human resources department said that, by current estimates, approximately 50 to 80 employees will need to be laid off.

Still, things could be worse. Cornell’s term bill will break the shocking $40,000 barrier next year, and Harvard has already laid off 200 employees and counting. We know the University would rather not lay off employees and that it would rather keep tuition lower. And we understand that the current economic reality means that members of all segments of the Yale community are going to have to make sacrifices. Just as the University finds ways to deal with tough times, we appreciate that it is finding ways for us to do so too. Yale has pledged to make up the difference in tuition for students on financial aid, and has promised to provide counseling services for employees who are laid off.

We find it admirable that Yale is making such overtures of support, but wish that such support was not even necessary. Job counseling certainly isn’t a replacement for having been laid off, and increased financial aid awards don’t help students who had no financial aid to begin with. Layoffs and the term bill are easy places to start, but in searching for other ways to cut costs, we hope Yale starts thinking more creatively. One of the largest cost increases Yale has incurred in recent years is a result of the rising price of energy. Last semester the YCC presented the administration with a plan for markedly reducing Yale’s energy use, and we hope this administration give this plan, or others, serious consideration.

Such environmental friendly plans, including the University’s efforts at reducing printing and paper use, not only help the environment but they have the potential to alleviate some of the financial hardship being born by students and employees.

Comments