December 6, 2016

Editorial: Cutting students activities the wrong answer to Webster’s financial problems

With the revelation of Webster’s fourth consecutive shortfall, it is more important now than ever that Webster and its administration stick to a promise it made to its students during this year’s spring convocation: keep students’ best interests in mind. Webster students’ best interests are not the cutting of academic and extracurricular programs they came to Webster for.

In the past four years, every shortfall has meant one thing for students: the programs they love are going to be cut, sometimes drastically. This year the administration has to take a hard look at what programs are important to this university, and which are not.

Instead of relying on the word of deans and faculty, Webster needs to ask its constituents, the students, what they want and need from this university.

With the university expecting around a $7 million shortfall, the university will be forced to once again make tough cuts all around to make ends meet. But a shortfall comes as no surprise when the school is in its fourth year of financial shortfalls and still spends like a university that has money to spare.

The addition of several global campuses, a new addition to the downtown campus and a nearly $40 million science building are an important part of attracting new students, and providing some newer students a year-or-two with some new facilities, but does not do much for current students.

The Journal staff recognizes the decisions the university has to make in the coming months will be difficult, but urges it to not punish the students who pay to attend this university by cutting the programs that are imperative to their learning experiences.

Webster should invest in its current programs, big or small, instead of dreaming up new opportunities and buildings. The message students get when potential students are deemed more important than current students is, “thanks for your money, but we have to think about who is going to pay us after you’re gone.” 

At the spring convocation, Provost Julian Schuster said the university needs to focus on new student enrollment and current student retention. Students are not inclined to stay at Webster University if they feel like they are not important, and in the past years that is exactly how students have felt.

If the the reason Webster’s facing another shortfall is based on student retention and enrollment, why is the answer to cut existing programs and then offer little transparency to the students affected? In the past, the cuts were made and few questions were answered about those cuts.

A semesterly Delegates’ Agenda is not hearing the students. It certainly cannot be described as hearing students when the answers to the concerns raised by the Delegates’ are met with “we’ll work on it,” or “we disagree,” which was the theme of last fall’s Delegates’ Agenda.

Secondly, the administration needs to hear the faculty. The Journal believes Webster should trust the faculty in knowing what is best for their students. They interact with us on a day-to-day basis and they hear us everyday.

Bolster the programs that exist, treat students like they matter and do not encourage students to leave Webster by eliminating the reasons they came here to beging with. Scorned students are not especially inclined to suggest Webster to other potential students. 

Most importantly, Webster needs to be truthful and open with its students in the coming months. Students need to know what is happening at the university, plain and simple.

Webster boasts itself on providing a place where students can be “You, Unlimited.” When our programs are cut and we are treated like numbers instead of students … well, that limits us quite a bit.

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