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Op-Ed: Stop passing the cost to students

By on July 14, 2014
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By Brandon McReynolds–

Over the past five years, despite constant budget cuts, I have seen the University of Louisville grow in an almost unprecedented fashion. Sadly the cost of the cost of campus growth has been pushed upon students. 

Recently, the Student Activities Board (SAB) announced that they are going to host Randy Houser at the Iroquois Amphitheater this fall. At first, I chose to be frustrated with SAB due to this not being the optimal scenario for students. Yet, as I began to reflect, I realized that groups like SAB, the Engage Lead Serve Board (ELSB), and the Student Government Association (SGA) are confined by the parameters of money and space they are given. I also recognize that being frustrated at the cost of a concert may seem silly or futile but when this cost is added to the cost of other college events and cost, the bill begins to rise and we see our campus become economically and socially stratified. 

I personally have friends work for SAB, and because of that, I know SAB works hard within the established limitations. This recognition leads me — instead of being frustrated at SAB and other student programming groups  to instead be angry at the restrictions placed upon them.

U of L continues to expand the number of students living on campus and over the next year will see the construction of two new student-housing complexes. Yet the groups responsible for student programming (SAB, ELSB, SGA as well as others) have only seen relatively minor funding growth. Funding is only one hurdle that groups like SAB face.

Due to a lack of investment in student infrastructure such as venues to host events, concerts, speakers, etc., along with an unwillingness to allow events to be hosted in prime outdoor locations such as the oval, groups like SAB are made to look beyond campus, adding cost and unneeded safety concerns. This leaves the final result that, due to the university’s  as well as the state’s — lack of investment in the student experience and higher education overall, groups like SAB are forced to push the cost onto students, further adding to the financial burden that U of L students have to carry.

Despite these restrictions, U of L students should know what a victory this concert is for SAB. They do massive programing for campus, yet SAB’s budget requires them to do it with very limited funds. Yes, these funds have grown in recent years but they are still dwarfed by those of other universities and fail to adequately meet the needs of our changing student population. It must also be recognized that U of L sits in a metropolitan market with premiere concert venues; therefore, it can be very difficult to attract better-known artists to the university for concerts.

SAB is not to blame for any cost frustration when it comes to student programming but rather students, including myself, should be angry at the established culture of asking students to pay more for athletic tickets, student housing and even student programming. I applaud what students and student groups such as SAB have been able to do to help U of L grow, but I know they could do so much more if the institution didn’t continuously pass the cost onto its students. 

Guest contributor Brandon McReynolds is a Ph.D. student in applied sociology at U of L, having also obtained his B.A. and M.A. from the university. He is a former member of SGA and still active in student groups on campus.

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