How We Choose to Spend Our Money

To the Editor:

As I was reading the online edition of the NY Times (10/4/03), I came across an article entitled “Jacuzzi U.? A Battle of Perks to Lure Students.” The content of this article refers to the hundreds of millions of dollars that America’s colleges and universities are spending on the “necessary luxuries” to lure a generation of students with plush needs. An example of this indulgence lies in Washington State University’s Jacuzzi that can hold 53 people. They boast it being the largest on the entire west coast.

But I have to admit that what really shocked me in this article was on the second page: The President of the University of Vermont, yes, Mr. Dan Fogel himself, was quoted on his justification for this arms race in higher education: “These are not frills, they are absolute necessities.” The article then went on to describe the future project for UVM that will cost 70 million dollars, money that will generate a ballroom, a theater and a faux pond for indoor skating in winter.

Now, as many students have become uncomfortable about our school’s newly acquired corporate sponsorship, it would have been reassuring to think that the money was going towards our much-needed expenses. Such genuine necessities include livable wages for the workers of the school, lower tuition (as we are one of the most expensive public universities) or even financial aid. This year, the Financial Aid services apologized for its record low of available money to give to students.

I think it is our duty, as the students and financiers of this school, to find out where our money is going. Why can’t we find enough money to pay a livable wage to the workers who hold this school together but we can find 70 million dollars to build an indoor pond? Why can’t we give enough financial assistance but we can give money to unnecessarily remove and again grow grass on the campus green? These are questions I have been struggling with and I hope you do as well. Thank you.