According to a letter from the Council of Presidents, which was cited in The Easterner last week, budget cuts have forced students at public universities in Washington to provide nearly 70 percent of the cost of their education. With the state deficit at a devastating high and cuts continuing to plague state funded universities, Eastern is facing the difficult task of further thinning the staff.
Currently in special session, Governor Gregoire and House and Senate representatives are attempting to figure out which components of the three proposed budget plans will best serve state funded institutions while helping Washington lessen the deficit.
The governor’s budget, which was proposed Dec. 15, 2010, suggests a cut of $9.6 million for the next budget biennium. This is the lowest of the three, with the House and Senate proposing cuts of $11.1 million and $10.1 million, respectively.
We are approaching the 70 percent mark for self supported education. When public universities were first founded in the U.S., they were predominately funded by the state, which is what made public universities appealing. Now, even though Eastern is the most affordable four year university in Washington, we are approaching what could be looked at as a private university financial state.
This is a difficult economic time for everyone in the country, making it especially hard on struggling college students who are seeing scholarship and grant numbers dwindle, both in amount of scholarship money awarded by the university and amount of aid given by the state.
With continued cuts in the 2011-13 biennium, students will see larger class sizes and fewer class options as Eastern attempts to combat the immense cuts. We will once again attempt to combat faculty cuts, but the entire university will feel the deficit’s effect.
“The president is 100 percent against cutting faculty,” said Dave Meany, media relations, in an interview for last week’s budget update article.
As long as the economy is in a state of disarray, Eastern will experience budget woes that may hinder its ability to provide the solid education it prides itself on.
The numbers referenced in this editorial were obtained from the State of Washington’s office of financial management.