Ashley De Shields
Many students have been increasingly aware of where their money is going, and they are also seeing a lot of things that need to be done not getting done, like repairing the roof in Humanities Hall, renovating the bathrooms in the dorms, keeping electricity and internet running in the dorms. At the beginning of the year the faculty was on strike because it was being offered a zero-percent pay increase over the next five years, and the increase in the payments needed for faculty health insurance, when quantified in monetary terms, translated essentially into a pay cut for faculty.
According to Anke Grosskopt, twenty-two percent of a student’s tuition goes towards endowment. Why? Because Administration puts a bulk of the money they get towards building and the general upkeep of the outside of the campus. The phrase “It’s the inside that counts” doesn’t just apply to people. A university can be beautiful on the outside, but it is how the students feel about the institution and how their day-to-day needs are met that ultimately matter. Andrew Albrechtsen, a Junior Computer Science Major says “I think this is the worst possible time for the administration to be doing this. We can’t offer the faculty any raises, yet we’re going to spend $4.5 million to drop two letters off our name? I think it is extremely insensitive of the administration to do this just two months after our faculty went on strike to protest the unfair terms of their contract extension. It’s hard to take the school seriously as it cries poverty when it’s time to renew its full-time faculty’s contracts, yet, has no problem with contemplating a multimillion-dollar expenditure to unnecessarily change C.W. Post’s name. Meanwhile, students are struggling to afford tuition and housing, taking out enormous student loans – how about we funnel that money into scholarships or grants?”
If a person were to walk up to a resident student and ask him or her what he or she dislikes the most at Post, here are the top five answers:
1. The bathrooms in the dorms (in need of renovation)
2. Internet in the dorms (consistent interruption that can last for days)
3. The dorms (mold in some of the buildings; and, electricity blackouts)
4. Food (lack of variety)
5. The School’s inability to minimize congestion at the food stops during common hour
The economic crisis in the country is severely affecting students and the ability to get loans; scholarships have not compensated for that because our endowment coffers are empty. President Steinberg said “a majority of the money is put into building because it is a better investment return” (Building what? I have just listed several areas in need of repairs which are not addressed. Regardless of these much-needed repairs, the school will be spending $4.6 million on a new stadium. Considering the prevailing circumstances, this is not too bad but it is the fact the school has apparently magically conjured up an additional $4.5 million for renaming the school. This is disrespectful towards students and faculty after administration has reiterated time and time again that they don’t have the money to address the issues we have consistently brought to their attention. Many decisions made by administration appear to have been made blindly and without being cognizant of the needs and desires of the majority of the school’s population. The faculty and the students are the backbone of the university; without them, the university cannot exist. The administration’s actions towards the current student population is bound to have a negative effect on prospective students, and already enrollment is low.
A university’s reputation is not solely built on the back of public opinion or the publications that rank the schools. A good portion of it is based on word or mouth. If a student is extremely unhappy with the university they are attending and they find a vast amount of their peers have the same feeling they are less likely to recommend it to their high schools or tell their friends who are planning on attending college. Ioanna Panopouplos, former Post Biology Major, said “When people asked me if I enjoyed going to Post, I said I enjoyed the social aspect of it. I had fun with my friends but academically it wasn’t challenging enough for me. The name has nothing to do with my reason why I came here or left. I didn’t recommend Post to any of the students from my high school or my friends.”
This school’s administration is ineffectual at times. They push to make this campus more technologically advanced with Blackboard and iPads, but it is worthless if students aren’t able to get online to use the technology. How about spending some of that money on wireless internet throughout the dorms? We will probably be told that it cost more than that but there is a solution; be more aggressive with fundraising. Healthcare Administration Senior Christine Pena responds to the news with, “Why change the name? It isn’t really a change at all. I think this school likes to waste money. It works so hard on the outer appearance and there are other things that need to be fixed, things students are constantly complaining about. I don’t think changing the name will do much for the school. The school makes up their brand by their actions and the quality of education.”
Outraged students are mad not so much about the idea, but at the cost of the name change. Farouk Houssein, a Political Science Major and Veteran, says “In reality, those funds should be going towards improving things on campus or even towards making tuition more affordable to make the school more attractive to prospective students if they are so worried about their retention problem! The bureaucracy of this institution really needs to get its priorities straight before a lot of others, including myself, transfer out because they are robbing our pockets and bank accounts.“
Political Science Professor, Michael Soupios, had the following to say about the name change: “I am in favor of doing anything that will reposition this school. This is a kind of window dressing and I’m very suspect of it. I’m not sure it will work and in fact it begs the question where is this money coming from? As far as substance versus cosmetics, I would like to know why the money isn’t going into scholarships. Many faculty members share the skepticism of students. Our administration is confusing academia with Madison Avenue.” In terms of the Administration’s idea that a name change or rebranding of the institution will bring new students, Professor Soupios concurs with Ms. Panopoulos stating, “A lot of it is word of mouth. Students go back to high school and talk about their time here and negative responses cannot be erased.”
Our university’s President Dr. David Steinberg is falling under a lot of scrutiny from students and faculty. The national average for the length of time any one person is president of a university is about 8 years, according to the American Council on Education. Dr. Steinberg has been in office for twenty-five years. Professor Soupios gives him due and says “He chases down members of our Board of Trustees when they haven’t given him their minimum requirement of $25,000 to remain on the Board.” Dr. Steinberg has done more than his predecessor and did a lot during the beginning of his term. Events in the last few years have caused people to question Dr. Steinberg’s ability to do his job efficiently. “He has fallen off the wagon in the last ten years, he is comfortable; stepping down will mean he loses a package that allows him to live quite comfortably… The Board of Trustees has low expectations of him so they themselves have become complacent. They should be pushing each other. There is a lack of enthusiasm that is needed to raise money,” said Soupios again.
People are at the end of their rope and things need to change. Our administration heads need to remove themselves from the circle and look at the bigger picture. They must reprioritize and listen to the people who endure the day-to-day life and sometimes the burden of this university. Now that students and faculty are united on this issue and are joining the trend of protest, will we see administration put blinders on their eyes and wax in their ears, or will they stop and listen? Will they really listen and do some serious self-evaluation, because that is what needs to take place. It’s time to add substance to the existing image.