Columns, Opinion

SANTARELLI: The BU bailout

It’s a hard time for the American college student. With the economy tanking like the Chicago Cubs’ postseason, I have become very unsure of where I will stand when the dust from this economic crisis settles. If being $200,000 in debt upon graduation wasn’t already bothering the average Boston University student a year ago, the rise in interest rates, depleting job market and staggering inflation should have done the trick by now. I cannot find any true sense of security to conflict my skepticism of the bailout, and I am starting to question what is truly gained from a liberal arts education.
What skills have BU students learned that will be of use in the job market? What will intro to political philosophy or presidential leadership courses do in the real world? The classic, ‘Nobody finds a job within their major,’ line just doesn’t do it for me.
In today’s struggling job market, I’m starting to picture how many disappointed BU students there will be, considering not everyone can get into law school, med school and investment banking. If the same fate in today’s economy can be said for the BU grad with little variation from the average state school grad, I’m beginning to really wonder what my $50,000 per year went toward.
Of the 59 National Universities that rank higher than BU on the U.S. News and World Report rankings, 39 have lower tuition and 22 of those have a nearly $10,000 difference. Granted, costs are much higher in a city like Boston, but do students really get the advantages they pay for at BU? Of the world class faculty who teach at this university, it seems that none of them teach more than one or two courses of which their only connection to students takes place in a large lecture hall. In addition, the majority of students whose tuition went to StuVi 2 and those that will go to StuVi 3 will never live there.
What’s the answer? The BU Bailout. It’s unjust that this university is continuing to increase costs when the return given to students is progressively losing value. While costs have gone up nearly $5,000 since my freshman year, the value of an undergrad degree at BU in the job market has decreased. I want some compensation. What can BU cut to lower tuition or what funding can be rearranged toward things that will be of better use to its student body? Maybe cuts in tuition, more practical facilities or cash reparations.
The university made a move in the right direction this past week with the hiring freeze, but the move is nothing more than a baby step. On Oct. 2 the Daily Free Press reported on the move the university made ‘-‘- freezing the hiring process for new professors and putting a halt to breaking ground on construction for possible future projects on the School of Law and East Campus. While this seems like a logical plan in these times of financial distress, such actions lack substance and are not innovative. Rather than taking innovating and straight forward steps to consolidate funds to their most practical use, the university has just taken a stand on one particular financial issue. The true problem the university is facing stems from costs that were a problem long before the current economic crisis. Millions of dollars are funneled every year into the upkeep of decrepit structures that should have been turned over long ago. While Warren Towers, the law building and Bay State brownstones are all essential landmarks of the East BU campus, the buildings have seen their prime. Major renovation or replacement of these structures would cut costs in upkeep of buildings that are going to need to be replaced sooner than later anyway. However, fixing this problem will only lead to greater financial need in the near future. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I believe there are people in the administration who have the answers to this dilemma.
A cut in the employee discount wouldn’t hurt, either. It’s a little ridiculous that I know 15 people who don’t pay tuition because they have a parent who works for BU. While such benefits are necessary to pull in the most talented professors, many other BU-affiliated employees of less credentials wreak the same benefits. I don’t call for a complete abolishment of the practice, but some guard needs to be put on such a benefit. Furthermore, how about getting rid of that 10 percent price spike on everything at Barnes & Nobles and Campus Convenience ‘-‘- an Arnold Palmer should not be more then 99 cents ‘-‘- that’s just not right. While these are only suggestions and not a fully detailed analysis, the point is that something needs to be thoroughly changed or given back.
Whenever you graduate, you have to seriously question whether you will be getting back what you have put into this university. Right now, I’m demanding more then just a $200,000 sheet of paper with my name and the BU seal on it.

Christopher Santarelli, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. He can be reached at [email protected]

One Comment

  1. College costs go up for several reasons. 1. Demographics – there are a lot of kids now of college age. 2. Colleges are not run efficiently (as private businesses), because there is not an incentive to do so. 3. Colleges receive federal funds and alumni funds which make them even more inefficient. Just think if you ran a private company and someone kept giving you millions. Would you be efficient? 4. The federal government has unfortunately made it very easy to finance a college education. This is not dissimilar to the sub prime housing crisis. Lower the cost of borrowing for a house too much and the buyers overpay.<p/>Further, college debt is one of the few things that you can’t bankrupt your way out of. You can thank your congress people for allowing this loophole. Taxes are one of the other things.<p/>Unfortunately, huge college debt will have another detrimental effect on our society. When someone graduates from college now with so much debt, they are not inclined not to start a family because of the risk. This will lead to fewer children.<br/>Bad stuff long term.