Budget cuts lead to structural weaknesses

If you’ve walked around the College lately, you may have noticed the new curse word we’ve added to our repertoires. It didn’t come from movies or rap music. No, this one came from our state government.

You got a parking ticket? “Budget Cuts!” There’s a bug in your salad? “Budget Cuts!” A pipe wiped out your building? “Fucking Budget Cuts!”

It may not be the most eloquent of phrases, but in the situation, nothing fits better. With another $3.7 million cut proposed this year, which amounts to another 10 percent off our state budget, these financial woes are serious problems.

While we all know about the tuition hikes and salary issues, our College may be more strapped for cash than we realize. The administrators have been running the school for years on limited budgets – the problems of their cost-conscious choices are beginning to show.

One corner they seem to have cut is infrastructure. Our sidewalks are crumbling, the garage roofs are falling and there are the problems with the buildings themselves. The quick-fixes on the automatic doors in Eickhoff and the pipes in New Res and Brewster are not in working order anymore.

These poorly planned repairs remind me of another unstable structure. In 1902, Frederic Remington made a bronze sculpture titled “Coming Through the Rye” that defied the odds and held up despite its great weight.

But when other artists tried to make a larger recreation of the piece, their versions collapsed because of poor planning. How long before the weight of real-world problems causes a similar collapse with our infrastructure? Then there are problems with staffing. If we weren’t so low on cash maybe we could afford to hire people in Green Hall who actually know what they are doing (I’m looking at you, Study Abroad and Financial Aid).

We don’t yet see the repercussions this has on student recruitment, but we won’t have to wait long. With less incentive to come to the College, we’ll be seeing a decline in the quality of attendees. A decline in the quality of our graduates will result in a decline in our overall reputation, which means that a few years after we graduate, our College diplomas will be worth less and less.

Like Remington with his bronze, we have managed to keep our cost-heavy system from collapsing. But as our problems grow, our budget faces the same fate as the Remington imitations.

These planning problems are visible even at the local level. The Student Government Association (SGA) urged students last week to get active in trying to stop the cuts, but in the same week they requested almost $33,161 for carnivals and games.

Activism can’t hurt, but it needs to be properly focused. SGA-style protests miss the bigger issues at hand. We as voters need to ward off complacency and demand better government planning, less corrupt policies and stricter enforcement for crooked politicians.

Instead of pumping millions of dollars into worthless quick fixes, our government should be reforming its policies (like allowing politicians to collect multiple pensions) and turning to its attorneys. We have waited for years for the state to hunt down the crooked bastards siphoning off our College’s resources. So cut the bull, Gov. Jon S. Corzine, and cut off the crooks.