Determination of budget should include student input

Students gather in the Academic Pavilion quad for an open forum in response to derogatory comments during College Coffee in September. This forum was the first of many discussions held by the university to help facilitate student input in campus-related issues. File photo by Claire Esparros, photo editor.

Elon students are often given ample opportunities to have their voice heard in regards to campus issues during open forum discussions. The university has implemented several of these town hall discussions in recent months in response to a variety of campus-related issues, ranging from international events to incidents of derogatory comments directed toward students.

Yet, Elon administrators hold an annual discussion that doesn’t cater itself to any student input — one that everyone at Elon eventually feels the effects of right where it hurts the most: their wallets.

The lack of student input in university budget processes is a policy that seems to be considerably out of place within collegiate culture today, even at private schools.

Students deserve the opportunity to demand the implementation of periodic open forum discussions specifically related to the renewal of Elon’s annual budget. These forums would allow students to voice their concerns and questions about what their tuition money would go toward in the coming year.

These forums would require university administrators to provide considerable detail surrounding the pros and cons of each budget proposal. Administrators at universities across the country have designed their budget hearings to accommodate the opinions of affluent parents and alumni who are invited to serve on various boards, in the hopes of garnering further donations for the institution. Meanwhile, no room exists for current student input, and that must change.

We recognize that the logistics of accounting for 6,000 student opinions makes the proposal seem somewhat impractical, to say the least.

But Elon should take note that the American public  has recently been demanding increased knowledge and discussion of policies that affect them, some of which have been previously treated as closed door discussions.

The Occupy movement has highlighted how the American youth, particularly those who are 18-24, are no longer willing to be subjected to blindly accept policy decisions that they had no hand in making.

The media coverage of the Occupy protests has sent a clear message to private businesses and institutions: They need to seriously re-evaluate their decision-making processes and should consider creating opportunities for public input if ones do not already exist.

Students in particular should be taking up the gauntlet in this campaign, as the budget process has the potential to drastically alter one’s college experience. Bolstering the funding to a particular study abroad program or campus organization could prove beneficial to a student’s future success, but they should be made aware of the change before the policy takes effect.

The university should consider revising its annual budget process to allow student input. Whether or not students would take advantage of the opportunity to contribute their opinion to the budget process remains unclear. But the university cannot afford to ignore the signs that American youth are becoming increasingly incensed by their lack of voice in issues that directly affect their lives and future. Every person should be able to contribute their opinion toward a decision that affects their community.

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