18 March 2009

LSU: Student Voices on Campus Budget Cuts

Students on the LSU-Baton Rouge campus, the system's largest, have responded to the state's education budget crisis with a student campaign called S.O.S. - Save Our Schools. The group meets face to face as well as on Facebook, and hopes to meet with state legislators, too. The S.O.S. Blog links to their press coverage.

More student voice is heard through editorials in the Baton Rouge campus Daily Reveille. This week the paper's editorial called for performance-based budget cuts, the "fairest way to weather this ugly financial situation." The LSU Board of Regents will be responsible for making large cuts for the 2009-10 fiscal year and the Board is being lobbied by everyone from students to the governor to consider basing the cuts on performance record (not just size of budget). The online Daily Reveille even has a menu tab for Budget Cuts (set between Sports and Entertainment), reflecting the intense interest in higher ed funding for the campus and for the state.

Cuts in Louisiana began this academic year, with cuts in the millions for most of the the state's institutions. The Baton Rouge campus cut more than $10 million, about a third of the cut for the entire LSU system. Mid-year strategies across the system included reduction of adjuncts and student workers. The next cuts will necessarily be broader in scope. For example, LSU-Shreveport is discussing a trimming of administration, reducing its colleges from four to two. Degree programs would not be cut according to this proposal, just its number of deans.

Louisiana will seek federal stimulus funding but the higher ed cuts for next fall will still be about $219 million. Campus administrators in the LSU system are preparing their own figures for review by the state's House Appropriations Committee this spring. Just as in many other states, the conversation underway in Louisiana does not assume that federal help or a recovered economy will make things right any time soon.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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