January 15, 2010

Editorial board flip-flops on University budget cuts

Forgetting past deference to university budget cuts, the editors today play accountants

Lamenting the end of free printing at the Mac Lab, the Editorial Board repeatedly objected to the “inconvenience” it created (“Out of Print,” 1/13/10). The editors do not take seriously the administration’s claim that the policy was too expensive to maintain, and thus break with previous editorials that supported cuts in workers’ hours and praised the discontinuation of the printed course catalog.

Last November, the editors praised the University’s “fair prioritization of competing interests” when deciding to cut some workers’ hours from 40 to 35 per week (“Reasonable Hours,” 11/10/09). “Setting priorities,” the editors counseled, “is an essential part of running any university.” Although the editors were neither then nor are now privy to the complete University budget, they deferred to the administration’s balancing of priorities.

Forgetting such deference mere weeks later, the editors today play accountants, and in their financial omniscience judge that the free printing policy “seemed like a reasonable burden for the University to bear given all the service it provided.” They offer no data and cannot claim to have pursued any serious analysis to support this conclusion.

Like free printing, there is no doubt that printed copies of the course catalog were “well used [and] much appreciated” by students, particularly since the online catalog is not easily browsable. Never mind this (and other) concerns, because the printed catalog was “a tremendous waste of money” (“Scrapping Paper,” 11/30/09). To reach this conclusion, the editors deferred to the administration’s accounting. They pursued no analysis of their own.

The editors’ primary objection to the end of the free printing scheme is that it is inconvient to students. From now on, they warn, students “working on a deadline” (read: printing out their paper minutes before it is due) will have to spend precious seconds putting money on their card before printing their assignment. This claim cannot be taken seriously. Put money on your card beforehand.

Lastly, and most notably, the editors’ suggestion of a compromise policy is without merit. “If 30 pages proved too costly,” they say, “then the Mac Lab could have lowered the individual cap to 15 pages per week, cutting the costs by half without negatively affecting the majority of student users.”

This is irrelevant: Simply because a 30-page limit is too expensive, it does not follow that a 15-page limit is affordable.

Andrew Thorton

Class of 2011