11/17/09 Administrators trample on International House and Multicultural Center

Fact Checker note: Like most of my posts, this is in direct response to a Chronicle article. The serious reader or researcher should fish out that article for complete understanding.

Fact Checker here. Thanks for tossing the T-Day recipes and addressing a vital issue on this campus.

Yes, all students and every stakeholder in Duke should care about International House and Multicultural Center, whether they use these resources or just pass them without knowing the difference between them. And you are right, one reason to care about others is selfish: your own favorite may be cut next with no consultation or sense of compassion.

But you lose me on the rest of your analysis.

You write "Duke is in a tough spot right now, and dealing with a financial struggle can be overwhelming."

Your statement does not mesh with what the Chronicle reported about assistant vice president Zoila Airall's Monday night meeting with students:

"Airall said the decision had been in the works for several months and was not prompted solely by budgetary concerns."

Several months, no consultation. Not prompted by solely by budgetary concerns, but no outline either of the factors that led to swinging of the ax. Abby Tinsley was right on: “ I feel patronized and I feel silenced.... I still have not heard a satisfactory answer to any of our questions.”

Information is power; that is the consistent theme of Fact Checker. It will be interesting to learn all the factors that Allen Building weighed.

As for the budget, the students who are involved with this are entitled to make a top to bottom analysis: how does Duke determine how much of its total money to devote to Student Affairs, and how does Student Affairs in turn allocate among competing elements. Without such fundamental information, there can be no real, responsible input.

Allow, please, Fact Checker to present some numbers, comparing the last two years available, that is, the 2007-08 academic year with 2008-09, ending June 30, 2009.

In one year, Duke's budget grew by $300,000,000. (page 29 printed version Tallman Trask's annual report.) But the slice devoted to Student Affairs was cut from $49,357,000 to $46,248,000. Yes, you paid more tuition, more fees, and wound up with less of the cake!

There was only one other category of expenses, General Administration, that saw its appropriation go down, and in this case, it was an insignificant wiggle from $628,244,000 million to $625,996,000.

Counting Duke Health, this is a $4 billion a year university. Who determines the slices, and how is the determination made that Student Affairs gets only $46 million?

Kousha, for a long time I have seen how the administration has operated across a spectrum of issues, and I categorically reject your conclusion that "they will listen if we speak up."

I challenge you to list examples.

Alas, you have far more faith in these people than Fact Checker.

Finally, I like this paragraph in your column:

"To be fair, half of the responsibility falls on us. If we do not let the University know that we have a problem, it is less likely that the administration will ask."

Fact Checker notes that the Trustees will have a plenary session December 4 and 5. And I believe reaching out to them on this vital issue is fully appropriate. Everyone should contact Student Trustees as a starter.

And as for the regular Trustees, Fact Checker is assembling the e-mail addresses for all of them, and will provide the list tomorrow or as soon as Chronicle policy, which unfortunately restricts postings to responses to its articles, allows.

√Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Let me sneak in my email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please send comments directly to Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com if you want a response. The on-line form is anonymous and we cannot get back to you.

We hope with transfer to a new website in the near future to have open discussion. FC also welcomes Guest FC columns, a complete essay that will be posted just like our own.