For the past several months, the College has been forced to make hard decisions about how to reduce spending. While trying to stay as committed as possible to its fundamental principles, the College has made cutbacks that have significantly affected everyone on campus—everyone, that is, except the students.
While we appreciate the College's desire and efforts to maintain current standards of the student experience, we also understand the severity of the current economic situation. The College has chosen to reduce its spending in big ways, like freezing faculty salaries and holding off on large purchases or new construction projects. This approach is necessary and commendable, but cutbacks should be shouldered by students, as well. While College employees tighten their belts and many of our families struggle to make ends meet at home, we students have not been forced to give up many of the luxuries that others have.
As other schools cut back on meal portions, close dining halls entirely, or trim student athletic offerings, Bowdoin has kept its students relatively insulated. Part of the College's response to the economic downturn has been to increase the student body by some 50 students over the next five years. We will feel the impact of this decision—a larger class here, a longer line there—but these effects are subtle. There are still more ways that the College could cut costs and reduce expenses, without detracting from the fundamentals of a Bowdoin education.
For example, as the year nears its end, campus organizations and College Houses may find themselves with excess funds that they will lose if they don't spend. Instead of blowing the money just to spend it, those managing funds should consider alternatives. They could forfeit the money in the interest of the community, or the College could allow funds to be saved for next year.
This week, the Bowdoin Student Government approved $400 to be spent on massages for students during finals week, and another $700 for subsidized movie tickets. A few weeks ago at the grad fair, which could have been a simple, logistical event to prepare seniors for commencement, hundreds of dollars worth of raffle prizes were given away and a large popcorn machine was specially brought in to provide attendees with a snack. We should reconsider this sort of spending: while enjoyable, such frivolity won't help the College balance its budget.
Bowdoin should not attempt to shield students from omnipresent economic maladies. By cutting out small excesses, the College would be saving a considerable amount of money and students would be taking a role in the preservation of the essentials of our college community.The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Day, Nat Herz, Will Jacob, Mary Helen Miller, and Cati Mitchell.