University sports: how deep will cuts go?
Published May 1, 2003

The first casualties are coming in. No, not from the war in Iraq, though there are far too many dead and wounded there already. No, Iím talking about the war on America and her people, a war being waged by the Bush Administration and its corporate allies. Itís a war of tax cuts, a class war that pits the rich and powerful against the poor and weak.

Itís true that taxes are a drag. I hate paying mine, just like everyone else does. That tax money, though, is not just funneled into Washington pork barrel projects. Taxes support a whole range of programs that are vital to our standard of living in this country. From air traffic control and security, to the nationís well-trained military, to Medicare and Social Security and every government program available, our taxes pay for it all. Local and state taxes are even more vital, supporting fire and ambulance services, our schools, our roads, and everything in between.

So it should not be an easy decision to drastically cut taxes. Unfortunately, it seems that this is the case in the Bush Administration, where tax cuts trump all else. As the economy continues to stagnate, and municipalities and states across America are in desperate need of funds to continue even basic services, a tax cut of the magnitude proposed by the current administration is foolish.

Which brings us to Edinboro University. Edinboro is part of the state system of universities, and as such is dependent to a large degree on state funding. Unlike a private institution, Edinboro does not charge tuition fees that soar into the stratosphere--at least not yet. Each student is heavily subsidized by the government. The state, however, is facing a budget shortfall of greater magnitude than any since shortly after World War II. Cuts must be made, and higher education is not considered as vital as other basic services and the maintenance of infrastructure.

Now, Edinboro, like so many other colleges and universities around the country, is facing a budget shortfall that is impossible to bridge without severely reducing costs. The only real way to do this is to cut programs. Some schools have cut departments that are underutilized by students. Others have made different decisions, like Edinboroís. It is unfortunate that these sports have to go, but the university must face up to a harsh reality: not everything can continue.

When colleges and universities, their endowments hit by the falling stock market, their federal and state funding being slashed, are faced with budget shortfalls as high as 25 percent, it is not surprising that our children will be shortchanged. Perhaps few will mourn the passing of the Womenís Studies Department, or the Department of Sociology, or even the baseball team, but with each area that disappears, the richness of our childrenís educational experience will suffer.

If we can afford to give rich Americans such massive tax cuts, why not put that money to better use instead? Most families cannot afford to send even one child to college without incuring crippling debt for themselves and their students. Take a hundred billion dollars of the Bush tax cut and put it to use sending Americans to college and university; it would be a good opportunity to close the education gap between America and the rest of the industrialized world. A hundred billion dollars would send a million people to school for four years (assuming an average $25,000 per year, per student). I, for one, would be happy to sacrifice my tax cut for that. That is the power of taxes and the power of governments: the power to make the world a better place. Letís tell our elected officials to use that power more wisely than they have.