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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Balancing the books

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, March 5, 2004

We all know by now that the St. Olaf budget is in trouble. Were looking at a $3.2 million deficit for next year, and the administration is doing everything possible to break even. So, we have unfortunate cuts to report.

The 21-meal-a-week plan is being cut to 19. Saturday and Sunday will have only brunch and dinner and there wont be any food service during breaks. Control of the bookstore might be given to Barnes and Noble. The SGA budget is probably going to be cut by 10 percent. The price of single rooms is going up by $910 a year. Twelve administrative positions will be cut, including that of Renee Sauter, the coordinator of the Wellness Center. And, of course, we all know that tuition is going up to over $30,000.

Again, we agree that none of these changes are good ones. We as students cannot empathize with the people who will lose their jobs. We do not, of course, want to pay $30,000 to anyone.

But we've got some good news. Everybody on the 19-meal-a-week plan will get some flex dollars to spend in the Cage, and the Cage will be expanded. The administration seems to be doing its best to stay away from academic programs. Full financial aid is still intact, at least for the moment. The cutting of the administrative positions alone will save the college $600,000.

The administration, as much as we'd like to complain, seems to know what they're doing. Under other administrations, the College has run into the red, and instead they're looking at long-term solutions, which are, unfortunately, often the hard ones.

Yes, we'll be in debt until we're 60. Yes, we may miss out on three or so concerts in the Pause. No, you won't be able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week in the Caf.

We're sure that you all have comments on our comments. We're sure that you all have alternative solutions to the looming budget deficit. We're sure you all have complaints about what's going to be cut or what you'll have to pay. But where were you? Where are you now? The Messenger covered the deficit in the fall and SGA made it the focus of many a public Senate meeting, but there was little-to-no student response. If you want to complain, you have to do more than whine. Act on your concern by talking to SGA, by attending Senate meetings or writing to the Messenger.

But in the midst of all this, remember that it's a projected $3.2 million were talking about. We cannot escape big cuts and increased revenue. The College is getting it done, and we believe Dean Kneser when he says that we probably won't see much difference in what we get out of a St. Olaf education.

Are the changes ideal? No. Are they necessary? Yes.

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