In recent years Western has faced some difficult challenges—mainly through budget cuts. Unfortunately, the tough times for Western are most likely not over.
Despite the economy turning around, the current Missouri Governor has made it clear that he does not support higher education. Unless there is a drastic change in Gov. Jay Nixon’s attitude, Western won’t be given the chance to grow.
Now, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a great school. With a lean budget, Western is able to accomplish a lot of things. We have great professors, dedicated staff and forward-thinking administrators. The problem is money.
But there’s no end to this problem. The money just simply isn’t there. Sure, students could always pay more, but that’s hurting the student more than it is helping them. Western doesn’t need ‘stay afloat’ money it needs ‘let’s build a new ship’ money.
Western is great with working with what it has, but it needs more. The sciences have some of the newest equipment in the field, but that benefit shouldn’t be strictly for the sciences. All departments should have the technology they need to teach students the skills they want.
It was recently announced that Gov. Nixon had raised $1.7 million for his campaign for governor. Ironically, that’s exactly what Western could use to fill its budget hole after Nixon’s proposed budget.
We shouldn’t vote against politicians. That mentality is destructive. But Gov. Nixon’s slashing of higher education budgets does leave opportunity for someone else. As a matter of fact, Nixon’s primary campaign slogan is that he hasn’t had to raise taxes. Is that really a good thing?
Even with such a heated debate surrounding taxes, both sides of the party line agree that taxes are generally necessary. The disagreement stems from how much should be levied and what the funds are used for. Regardless, more money for higher education should be a priority and reason for a potential tax increase.
The other problem with the current funding model for higher education is the inequality across institutions. Universities like Truman and MU receive more state money per student than Western. If a tax increase were proposed, to make it fair the state government should also reform how much schools get per student.
At Western, it’s not a matter of misusing money; it’s a matter of being under funded. Students at other schools shouldn’t complain about budget cuts because they already get more money per student than Western. At the same time, this isn’t about competition. In an ideal world, every university would have healthy funding levels. But they don’t. The fact is, Western is suffering the most.
It’s time for a change. The way universities receive funds in Missouri must be reformed. Western is suffering, while others—who may not be striving—are surviving better than Western. As election season gears up, listen closely.