Is the Economy Stupid?!

I am worried that our administration is failing to heed fundemental economic laws about basic supply and demand principles. Ignoring economic truths demonstrates a disregard for interdisciplinary education. The goal of every successful market must be increased productivity and technological development.

Logically, when a market becomes more effective and efficient, it can better compete with other firms. As students at UVM, when we gain a better education faster, we can compete, on a national scale, for jobs and other academically motivated pursuits.

UVM is a firm in the educational market, and the University’s goal is to make students study and learn more in a shorter amount of time.

The administration at UVM has done a poor job of attempting to achieve these goals. Our judicial committee and campus police have attempted to diminish the student demands for substance-related recreational activities. New laws have been enacted so that students who get in trouble with campus police must also face public Burlington Police forces, and vice versa. Further, strict laws exist at UVM so that it is possible to get in trouble for NOT reporting a friend’s “substance abuse.”

Students face lengthy and bothersome substance abuse counseling and must pay huge fines for being caught with drugs or alcohol. Such consequences are not inappropriate! While a large percentage of college students, especially here at UVM, utilize recreational drugs, such practices should not be excused or condoned by a public academic institution.

BUT, before we spend thousands of UVM dollars on judicial counseling andbureaucratic paperwork to sort out recreational consequences, why not approach our situation from the supply side?

By providing a more academic environment for students, the UVM administration can shift the “academic production frontier” to the right. Non-academic demand will be counteracted by more promising alternatives. In essence, the opportunity cost of NOT studying becomes too high. The entire Bailey Howe Library should be open 24 hours a day so students are never without access to the plethora of knowledge that books afford.

A huge open library would provide a better place to study than dorm rooms or downtown apartments do. Individualized TAP classes should be made mandatory so that students receive more personal attention and are forced to generate relationships with faculty. As in many private colleges, the Career Counseling center should be better funded and have better resources. More money should be made available to campus clubs and activities.

By expanding the sectors listed above, UVM can increase the supply of academic opportunities. If our goal is an improvement of UVM’s academic reality, such an increase in supply will prove more effective than attempting to decrease demand for recreational-or nonacademic-activities. In a multi-disciplined and rational academic center, I think the administration should look realistically at student behavior, and model its decisions to achieve goals using rational economic principles.

So, as UVMers we all need to become better, faster, more efficient and more intelligent to compete with other students. But rather than artificially and temporarily diminishing demand for partying, students should be motivated and encouraged to pursue academic activities.