Cents and sensibility: Butler needs to use both openly

Graphic by Erin Drennan

 

Butler Bowl and Hinkle Fieldhouse renovations: $2.3 million.

The Howard Schrott Center for Performing and Visual Arts: $13 million.

Cost of one semester at Butler, living in Residential College with a meal plan: $21,500.

It would take 107 semesters for one student  to pay off the changes to the Bowl and Hinkle. As for the Howie? 605 semesters.

College is a huge investment and the construction on campus is not free. Bulldogs should know what they are paying for, and they easily can find out for themselves.

Butler University is a private college, so the paper trail is not as transparent as it is at public schools. It’s easy to assume that the information is impossible to get, but it’s not. It took about 15 minutes online to obtain the above data.

For many students, Butler’s idyllic campus was a winning factor in their application process. It is the kind of place where undergrads play Frisbee, carry books and chug Starbucks coffee every day.

I fell in love with this place the moment I saw it.  This piece is not a condemnation of the projects on campus. Instead, it is a call for students to educate themselves on the university’s expansion.

We need to know how much information is available.  Then, we need to push for more.

After all, there are legitimate concerns about the way Butler spends money. The Health and Recreation Center pool opened just five years ago and already repairs are underway. Part of the pool originally was made of plaster. Pool-goers chipped the flooring by walking on it.

That does not sound like it should have been a surprise.

It is not unreasonable to ask for more forward-thinking investments. Perhaps a more open approach involving more student cooperation with administrators could solve a few of these problems before they cost the university twice.

So, yes, Butler probably should do a better job of publishing information about the budget. But before complaining, students should do some research for themselves.

Or just ask. Information is easy to come by.

A variety of other groups are in charge of making decisions about which projects get started, said Gerald Carlson, interim vice president of operations.

“It’s Operations’ job to finish projects on time and under budget,” he said.

One of these groups is the Capital Work Group, which helps to fund and approve projects from Operations as well as the Student Government Association, the provost  and others, said Carlson.

The committee doesn’t have enough funds to green-light every project. Carlson advocated repairs for the roof of Jordan Hall, but the group could not afford it this year. SGA, on the other hand, lobbied for and received expanded key-card access.

It appears as if there are several groups on campus that all have their own budgets, that can all promote projects. The provost’s office has its own resources. The Butler Leadership Team can change the master plan or fund their own projects.

Part of being informed is doing independent research. Butler’s Strategic Plan outlines expansions that the university is likely to need in the future. And students already have a way to get their voices heard—attend SGA meetings.

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