"The Why" Behind the Slogan

by Ralph Davies | 11/25/02 6:00am

There has been some concern and confusion expressed to us over the past week regarding the signs we have posted throughout much of campus questioning Dartmouth spending habits. We posted these signs because we are upset that the College is considering cuts to library and departmental budgets while it continues to spend money on what we perceive to be ineffective social programming. While we appreciate the College's efforts, we believe Dartmouth should not abandon its longstanding commitment to academic excellence. In our opinion, reducing the budget of each academic department by 4.2 percent over the next year constitutes a reduced commitment to what makes Dartmouth great.

While most students with whom we have spoken wholeheartedly support our campaign, questions have emerged as to the accuracy of our information and as to whether we have intentionally tried to evoke campus anger. If the figures on our signs are invalid or misleading, we would like to apologize. At the same time, we also want to clarify that we did in fact go to the Provost's office to ask for a College budget and were told to wait until the Treasurer's office opened the following Monday. Sensing that it would be hard to get detailed information from Parkhurst, we examined a copy of last year's budget at Rauner Library. However, information about the programs we were interested in was not enumerated.

As far as intentionally trying to incite disaffection about budgetary decisions made on this campus is concerned, we are unrepentant. In our opinion, Dartmouth needs more frustrated students to meet with campus administrators, write editorials, sign petitions and question why the College spends money the way it does. Ironically, the same questioning ethic advanced by many administrators in support of the "Why War" campaign should now be applied to those same administrators. We, as students, need to "think about it." More specifically, we need to think about why the College recently spent money directly from its budget (not just from the earmarked Student Activities fund), in order to revamp a College dance club that few students attend. In the same vein, we need to ask why the College has made an unequal effort to promote natural social programs, such as sporting events, which have traditionally brought the Dartmouth community together. We need to ask why the College has invested in a social norms initiative that seems to have produced little more than the "7 out of 10 Drink only 1 to 4 drinks" slogan displayed on signs and T-shirts. Granted, cuts to programs like these may not be enough to prevent budgetary belt-tightening in other, more important areas. However, they suggest that other solutions to the budgetary crisis may exist.

Most of all, we need to ask why the price tag of certain events and initiatives is secret. Why is this information hidden from us? In many ways, the ignorance that we projected on our signs unintentionally revealed the crux of the issue. We, as members of the College, deserve a right to know how our tuition dollars and our endowment are being spent.

We challenge the administration to be as detailed and specific as possible when they send the student body their report about budget cuts in the upcoming weeks. In light of suspicions that money is being wasted on "social programming," we urge the administration to explain, in concrete terms, why cuts to the most integral parts of the institution are being contemplated. Accordingly, we exhort the administration to consider cutting less important projects before imposing cuts that will adversely affect the educational experience of Dartmouth students. Finally, we would like to remind the administration that we are not alone in our concern. To end with another stolen slogan: "Provost Scherr, show us the money."

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